Insights for U.S. Nonprofits From the Russia Donors Forum Conference

February 17, 2019

Russia_donors_forumLast fall, I was invited to speak about collaboration for social impact and corporate volunteerism at the annual Russia Donors Forum conference in Moscow. The conference brings together philanthropy and corporate social responsibility professionals from foundations, corporations, and nonprofits to share insights and lessons about how non-financial resources can support philanthropic activity. The invitation stemmed from my work with Global Impact, a U.S.-based nonprofit focused on growing global philanthropy to help the world's most vulnerable people, and my experience there helped broaden my perspective on the international philanthropic sector and the work we do.

My stay in Moscow was eye-opening. Not only did I gain valuable insights into current trends in Russian philanthropy, I also learned how U.S.-based nonprofits can engage with individuals and nonprofits operating within the ever-evolving international philanthropic space. In advance of my trip, I reviewed recent research and reporting on the state of Russian philanthropy, including the 2018 Giving Global Matrix: Tax, Fiduciary and Philanthropic Requirements developed by my organization in partnership with KPMG. The report highlights the complex and varied tax laws that incentivize or disincentivize philanthropic giving in sixty countries around the world, including Russia, and also addresses ten questions designed to shed light on the philanthropic climate in a particular country. Many of the insights from my time in Russia confirmed the findings captured in the report — namely, that a generally supportive climate for philanthropy does, in fact, exist there. Moreover, my conversations and interactions with professionals at the conference deepened my understanding of the international philanthropic sector, as well as how nonprofit organizations and corporations are addressing areas of critical importance through the commitment of both financial and non-financial resources.

In Moscow, I was greeted by a vibrant network of social sector professionals working to achieve greater impact, improve platforms and methods of measurement and evaluation, and address causes and focus areas relevant to their specific country context. And I was reminded repeatedly how important it is for us to follow the lead of country-specific philanthropic communities in providing support and sharing best practices.

There are people more qualified than I am who can speak to the state of philanthropy in Russia, and my intention here is not to offer sweeping or prescriptive statements; rather, it's to offer the perspective of a U.S.-based nonprofit professional who believes in the work we do and would like to see it achieve greater reach and impact. Recognizing the importance of locally defined philanthropic efforts are a key aspect of that. The international philanthropic community can support its peers in other countries by lifting up and providing resources in support of their objectives, as well as sharing best practices — whether they relate to building an effective case for support, effectively communicating to senior corporate leaders the return on investment of volunteerism, or developing useful and efficient processes for measurement and evaluation.

Some of that can be done through training materials or initiatives, such as IMPACT2030, which defines itself as "a private sector-led initiative that, in collaboration with the United Nations, civil society, academia and other stakeholders, is leveraging human capital investments through employee volunteer programs to advance the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)." At conferences and in one-on-one meetings, we often talk about breaking down silos and how that can help make us more efficient and effective. It's a concept I believe needs to be applied more broadly in terms of breaking out of our regional silos. There are learnings from the philanthropic and social sectors in the U.S. that could be replicated in Russia (and other countries); and there are learnings from Russia (and other countries) that would be of interest to those of us in the U.S. As funding streams are further disrupted, the global philanthropic community needs to be better informed about global trends — who is investing, how donors worldwide are identifying and approaching opportunities, where nonprofits are operating, and where synergies may lie.

As we look to the future, I encourage U.S.-based nonprofits to consider how they are already connected to nonprofits in other countries and regions of the globe, as well as how they might connect more often — and in more meaningful ways. The SDGs are one mechanism for doing so. Events and conferences that attract increasingly diverse audiences are another and afford the opportunity to make or deepen authentic connections with others doing similar work in different contexts.

More broadly, we need to think creatively about how we partner and maintain an open dialogue with our peers in other countries; explore less-obvious connections and recognize that while we all work within our own unique context, there is transferable knowledge, including successes and failures, to be shared; and adopt a more global perspective in terms of sourcing ideas and research. There are lessons to be learned from the philanthropic efforts of communities in other countries and regions of the world, and not to take advantage of them fully would be a disservice to us all.

Headshot_samantha_duceySamantha Ducey is director of partner solutions at Global Impact, a leading U.S.-based nonprofit working to build resources and partnerships for the world’s most vulnerable people

My Way, Your Way, and the Highway

February 14, 2019

My way orWorking on a cause or leading a movement today means managing a team of people whose ages, backgrounds, work styles, expertise levels, and personality traits can be all over the place. And the backgrounds of your donors and stakeholders can be just as varied. Sooner or later, it raises the question: Are you prepared to manage the inevitable (though often hidden) tension that arises between young and old, new and experienced, impetuous and measured?

I've heard lots of stories in which a seasoned nonprofit veteran sees a new recruit to the cause begin to get attention for her ideas and becomes disgruntled, even resentful, while the new hire just thinks the more experienced colleague is being unreasonable and stubborn. Meanwhile, the tension between them mounts, with each wishing the other would just go away.

The same kind of tension can occur between organizations, creating a monumental stumbling block to significant, sustainable change as donors and supporters sort themselves into opposing camps.

That's more than a shame. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2019, "The world faced a growing number of complex and interconnected challenges in 2018. From climate change and slowing global growth to economic inequality, we will struggle if we do not work together in the face of these simultaneous challenges."

In other words, if we expect to make any progress on the urgent challenges at hand, it's imperative that we all do what we can to minimize this kind of tension.

I know, it sounds difficult. But it's not; it just requires a shift in mindset. You could, for example:

  • Reach out to organizations or individuals you've never considered as a potential partner and initiate a conversation around a mutual purpose or shared goals related to something you have in common.
  • Look to form partnerships that actively benefit constituents who are undeserved, or not served at all.
  • Create joint ventures and co-marketing opportunities that focus donors' attention on a single objective, rather than distracting them with multiple appeals and calls to action.

How and Why It Works

Consider the World Economic Forum's System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Food. Through the initiative, WEF hopes to facilitate the creation of "inclusive, sustainable, efficient, and nutritious food systems through market-based action and collaboration in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals." Among other things, the initiative hopes to improve the ways food is tracked from where it's grown to where it is consumed (a process known as "traceability"). For traceability to work, however, unprecedented collaboration involving governments, tech companies, agribusinesses, retailers, food producers, and civil society leaders will have to take place and become the norm.

One key to success will be the reception afforded new entrants and players in already established food production and distribution systems.

Remember how I started this post? 

  • Will new concepts and challenges to current approaches be openly and honestly debated and weighed?
  • Have "safe places" been established for the deliberate, authentic sharing of knowledge?
  • Will stakeholders grant the space, time, resources, and tolerance for risk that are needed for real, sustainable innovation to take place?

In my opinion, the real issue hampering collaborations today arises from the very human desire each of us harbors to be the person who solves or dramatically advances an issue. Irony notwithstanding, that impulse is perhaps the biggest obstacle to any organization or group of people being real drivers of change.

Getting In Our Own Way

In a recent post here on PhilanTopic, I wrote about how we, as representatives of our organizations, want people to keep our nonprofits top-of-mind and appreciate us for the work we do, but that such a mindset runs counter to how people in real life actually engage with a cause, in that it tends to make us, rather than the people we want to help, the focus of attention.

Similarly, when we choose to partner with other organizations, it's often because we're interested in having more people learn how great our organization is. From annual reports that lack any discussion about things that failed to inauthentic marketing language, the message for donors is predictable: Our organization is the best positioned to solve a particular problem, and we’re working harder than anyone else to do so.

Such a mindset comes at a huge cost: over time, we lose sight of the bigger goal and shut ourselves off from new ideas that could help us address the problems we all want to fix.

Remember that the next time you're in a meeting and the discussion starts to pit a seasoned veteran against a new person, the way it’s always been done against the “let’s think different” approach, the way your organization does things against the way a partner does things. Only by recognizing that we all have biases and acknowledging that neither we nor our organization have a monopoly on good ideas can we hope to advance meaningful and lasting social change. It may not be easy, but it's definitely worth the effort.

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

What's New at Candid (formerly Foundation Center and GuideStar) — February 2019

February 13, 2019

Candid logoHave you heard? Foundation Center and GuideStar have joined forces to become a single nonprofit organization, Candid. Together, we are dedicated to sharing information and insights that can fuel deeper impact. Candid will allow us to combine our knowledge and passions, and to do more than we could ever do apart. And the work continues! Here are some highlights of what we have been working on to start the new year.

Projects/Training Launched

  • New research supports: (1) donors give more to transparent nonprofits, and (2) transparent organizations tend to be stronger organizations. The research, recently published in the Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance, analyzed more than 6,300 nonprofits in the GuideStar database. They found that, as a group, nonprofits that earned a GuideStar Seal of Transparency averaged 53 percent more in contributions the following year compared to organizations that didn’t earn a Seal.
  • In partnership with the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, we've officially launched Funding for Early Childhood Care and Education, a joint effort to map the last ten years of philanthropic giving around family engagement and professional development. Foundation Center Midwest is partnering with the United Black Fund and the Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society to present The Soul of Philanthropy: Reframed & Exhibited.
  • We launched a new CF Insights research brief that looks at which community foundations are accepting donations of cryptocurrency, the challenges they've faced, and the platforms they use.
  • Glasspockets has unveiled a new transparency indicator that highlights whether foundations are publicly sharing their values or have policies that commit them to working transparently. The new "Transparency Values/Policy" indicator can be found on the Who Has Glass Pockets? page.
  • We've added a new infographic to the Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy site. Learn more on voting districts and the bipartisan divide on immigration issues.
  • In January, Foundation Center Midwest hosted an event in partnership with local arts stakeholders at which Foundation Center Midwest director Teleangé Thomas presented to a soldout room of young and emerging creative professionals on how Foundation Center can help them find funding with Foundation Directory Online and Foundation Grants to Individuals Online.
  • Also in January, Foundation Center Midwest hosted the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program's fundraising workshop, a full-day contract training for twenty-five "dreamers" working in the social justice and entrepreneurship space.
  • Foundation Center West successfully completed its contract training with the Creative Work Fund (CWF), a program of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund that is generously supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The training included a series of informational webinars and a convening around Mastering Collaboration featuring successful past CWF grantees and their grant award-winning artist + nonprofit collaborations.
  • Foundation Center West also completed two fund development workshop series for the San Francisco City and County Department of Children, Youth and their Families (DCYF). The series consists of three workshops each: fundraising planning; crafting a competitive letter of intent; and project budgets.

Content Published

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Our offices in DC, Cleveland, New York, and San Francisco will host three-day proposal writing boot camps for the public in March and April. On average, Proposal Writing Boot Camp participants reported a 75 percent increase in their confidence after the session.
  • March 26: The "All Together Now: Conversations in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” series continues. During a program titled "Skills for Overcoming Burnout – Refueling the Fire," our partners at Rhiza Collective will share proven methods of self- and collective care. Learn how stress and trauma impact individuals and teams, and get strategies to address conflicts and resolve tensions.
  • We will travel to Miami in March to facilitate a funding panel, "Funding Collaborations and Building Ecosystems: A Grantmaker Meets the Changemaker Panel Discussion," in partnership with the Miami Children's Trust and Miami Dade Public Library System.
  • We've updated our self-paced e-learning courses, including "How to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships with Funders," "How to Use Data to Raise More Money from Corporations," and "How to Start a Major Gifts Program."
  • February 15: Foundation Center Midwest will be moderating a program in partnership with AFP Greater Cleveland, "Donor-Advised Funds: How to Find and Secure Support," featuring representatives from the Cleveland Foundation, Glenmede, and Fidelity. The program is a shared-cost contract program and, with a hundred attendees, is sold out.
  • The second webinar and watch party presented as part of Foundation Center West's California Wellness: Strengthening California Nonprofits grant will happen on February 27: 7 Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Leaders with Sean Kosofsky. In addition, five California Funding Information Network partners — Cal State University - Chico; the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at John F. Kennedy University; Santa Barbara Public Library; Santa Monica Public Library; Pasadena Public Library — and one lapsed FIN, Cal State University - Fresno, have signed up to host watch parties and engage in a facilitated community discussion post-webinar.
  • GuideStar is providing nonprofit data to more people than ever before and in the last year recorded its 10 millionth unique visitor at GuideStar.org!
  • We're thrilled to announce that more than 66,000 nonprofit organizations have added information to their GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles, thereby earning a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum GuideStar Seal of Transparency.
  • More than 70,000 university students and faculty in California now have access to GuideStar Pro resources for academic purposes thanks to UC Irvine and UC Berkley. Both colleges signed on to become GuideStar Library Services clients, providing institution-wide IP access to the GuideStar database.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 458,072 new grants added to Foundation Maps in January, of which 2,960 grants were made to 1,836 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Foundation Directory Online now includes more than 14 million grants. In the new My FDO, new tools can help you manage your prospects like a pro.
  • New data sharing partners: Alaska Children's Trust, Alaska Community Foundation, Apex Foundation, Community Foundation of Snohomish County, Delta Dental Plan of Colorado Foundation, Inc., The Funding Network, George Alexander Foundation, John & Denise Graves Foundation, JRS Biodiversity Foundation, Kitsap Community Foundation, Sheng-Yen Lu Foundation, Melbourne Women's Fund, Montana Healthcare Foundation, Raynier Institute and Foundation, Satterberg Foundation, Thrivent Foundation, United Way of Pierce County, Westpac Foundation, and Sherman and Marjorie Zeigler Foundation. Tell your story through data and help us communicate philanthropy's contribution to creating a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.

Data Spotlight

  • Since 2006, private foundations in the U.S. have made grants of more than $7 billion to improve early childhood care and education, reflecting a deep commitment to the importance of supporting children and their families during a critical developmental period in their lives.
  • Total GrantSpace sessions for January 2019 exceeded 195,000.
  • As of November 2018, our Online Librarian service had reached its 2018 goal of serving more than 130,000 people.
  • We recorded nearly 30,000 registrations for our online programming in 2018.
  • We exceeded our goal for in-person attendance to our classes, with more than 16,000 attendees in 2018.
  • A five-year trends analysis of the largest 1,000 U.S. foundations demonstrates that foundations contributed an average $150.4 million a year specifically for disasters. Funding spiked in 2014 due to large grants for the Ebola outbreak, then declined over the next two years. Learn more about these trends at foundationcenter.org.
  • We completed custom data searches for Grantmakers in the Arts, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, McKinsey, the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers, the City of Phoenix,the City and County of San Francisco, Skidmore College, TCC Group, the University of San Diego, and GiveWell.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email! I’ll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Candid.

Weekend Link Roundup (February 9-10, 2019)

February 10, 2019

Homepage-large-fc-and-gs-are-candid_tilemediumA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

"Someday, perhaps, an entire nation could be powered by renewable energy, but that day is too far off to deal with the climate threat," say Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist in a new book called called A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow. Instead, Goldstein and Qvist tell Marc Gunther, countries should be looking to nuclear as the short-term answer to the problem. For many in the environmental community, that is a non-starter. Gunther explores the dilemma.

Governance

Writing on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Kim Williams-Pulfer, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, shares some thoughts on nonprofit boards and the diversity imperative.

International Affairs/Development

On the OECD Development Matters site, Benjamin Bellegy, executive director of the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), shares his thoughts on how philanthropy can best contribute to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

Journalism/Media

Journalism and the news media in the U.S. are in trouble, the traditional business model for news threatened with extinction by the consolidation of eyeballs and ad dollars on a few mega-platforms. Forbes contributor Michael Posner looks at the conclusions of a new report funded by the Knight Commission on Trust, Media, and Democracy and finds that while the report diagnoses the problem well, "its recommendations do not go far enough."

Nonprofits

A new report from the Building Movement Project, a nonprofit research group, finds that women of color in the nonprofit sector face are twice as likely to be discriminated against than white men, more likely to be overlooked for advancement than any other demographic group, and, come review time, are more often ignored or subject to scrutiny in ways that appear directly related their minority status. Ben Paynter reports for Fast Company.

Social good organizations that don't gather and pay attention to feedback from their constituents are passing up a golden opportunity to improve their services and offerings, write Fay Twersky, director of effective philanthropy at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Fred Reichheld, a fellow at Bain & Company and creator of the Net Promoter System®, in the Harvard Business Review. Fortunately, there are a growing number of tools out there, including something called Listen for Good (L4G), which is based on Reichheld's Net Promoter System, that make it easier than ever to do so.

In an era in which data is "revered," Paul Jolly, a fundraiser, creativity coach, and poet, reminds us on the GuideStar blog that "data does not guarantee good strategy. Data simply answers questions. And asking the right questions requires wisdom and curiosity."

Philanthropy

Amanda L. Gordon, who reports on wealth and philanthropy for Bloomberg, asks: What does it mean to be a billionaire in an age when there have never been so many? The answer is entirely unclear. 

On the Project Syndicate site, Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and founder of the nonprofit organization The Life You Can Save, suggests that the Sackler family, the family behind the pharmaceutical company that has fueled America's opioid crisis, should stop using its wealth to promote the arts and start supporting, on the same scale as their arts philanthropy, groups that reduce suffering anywhere in the world.

In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fidelity Charitable's Pam Norley and Elaine Martyn argue that donors with donor-advised funds "are poised to advance an emerging practice in philanthropy: listening to the organizations and people they are trying to help." But, they add, to "listen well, they will need the help of nonprofits they fund."

Science/Technology

Privacy in the twenty-first century is a complicated and often contested issue, writes Wilneida Negrón, a technology fellow in the Gender, Racial and Ethic Justice program at the Ford Foundation. Is it a human right? How much of it are we willing to give up in exchange for convenience or public safety? Should we expect the tech industry to self-regulate, or should government step in? All good questions, with no easy answers in sight. But there are things, says Negrón, that each of us can do "to build public support for laws, regulations, and interventions to promote privacy — and to ensure that the voices of the people and communities most affected are taken into account."

Social Good

As you're probably heard, Foundation Center and GuideStar have joined forces to become Candid. In this post, Brad Smith and Jacob Harold, president and executive vice president of the new entity, explain why it makes sense at this moment in time for the two organizations to combine their talent, technology, data, and leadership teams to help transform the work of social good. And in this post, Jen Bokoff, director of stakeholder engagement at Candid, and Gabe Cohen, senior director of marketing and communications, explain what the change means for users of GuideStar and Foundation Center products and services — over the next few months and in the years to come. 

Tax Policy

For Democrats, taxing the wealthy seems like a good first step to addressing  the urgent social and environmental challenges we face as a country. But it's not as easy as it might seem and, as always, the devil is in the details. Paul Sullivan reports for the New York Times.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Newsmaker: Cathy Cha, President, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

February 07, 2019

Cathy Cha, who officially stepped into the role of president of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund in January, has long worked to advance new models for how foundations can collaborate with advocates, communities, and government to achieve greater impact. Cha joined the Haas, Jr. Fund in 2003 as a program officer. From 2009 to 2016, she managed its immigrant rights >portfolio, leading efforts to bring together funders and local leaders to strengthen the immigration movement in California. For the past two years, Cha served as vice president of programs at the Fund.

Cha co-created and led the California Civic Participation Funders, an innovative funder collaborative that is supporting grassroots efforts across California to increase civic participation and voting among immigrants, African Americans, and other underrepresented populations. She also worked with legal service providers and funder partners to launch the New Americans Campaign, which has helped more than 370,000 legal permanent residents in eighteen cities become U.S. citizens, and helped jumpstart efforts to create the African American Civic Engagement Project, an alliance of community leaders, funders, and local groups working to empower African-American communities.

PND asked Cha about new efforts at the fund, its priorities for 2019, and the evolving role of philanthropy in bringing about a more just and equal society.

Headshot_Cathy_ChaPhilanthropy News Digest: Your appointment to the top job at the fund was announced in January 2017, and you're stepping into the shoes of Ira S. Hirschfield, who led the fund for twenty-eight years. What did you do to prepare during the two-year transition period? And what was the most important thing you learned from Ira?

Cathy Cha: One of Ira's greatest contributions was the way he encouraged the fund's board, staff, and grantees to really dream about how to have more impact in the world. That dare-to-dream philosophy has allowed us and our partners to reach ambitious goals — from achieving marriage equality to making California the most immigrant-affirming state in the country.

Today, the fund remains committed to supporting people's best aspirations of what's possible for their communities. In 2018, we co-launched the California Campus Catalyst Fund with a group of undocumented student advocates and community experts. With investment from thirteen funders, we're now supporting thirty-two urban, suburban, and rural public college and university campuses across the state to significantly expand legal and other support services for undocumented students and their families at a time of incredible need. It's a great example of how philanthropy can work with community partners to catalyze and support solutions that make a real difference.

PND: Over the last two years, the fund managed an organizational transition that included the expansion of the board to include members of the next generation of the Haas family and the hiring of new staff at both the program and senior leadership levels. What was the overarching strategy behind those moves, and what kind of changes do you hope they lead to?

CC: During this transition, we were intentional about addressing a couple of key questions. How can we keep this organization relevant and responsive in a volatile and changing environment? And how can we set ourselves up to write a bold new chapter in the Haas, Jr. Fund's work? We want to be positioned for bigger impact to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges. We're building a leadership and staff team that represents and affirms the fund's enduring values. Our new board members are committed to building on their grandparents' legacy, and they bring new and valuable perspectives to the fund's work. We have staff members who have lived the immigrant experience, people who are LGBT, and individuals who are the first in their families to go to college. Whether I'm working with our board or the staff, I see a team with deep connections to the communities and the issues we care about, a profound belief in civil rights values and leveling the playing field, and an abiding commitment to excellence and progress. That gives me real hope and confidence for the future.

PND: In January you said you would "be launching a process in the weeks ahead to explore how the fund and our partners can strengthen our impact." What can you tell us about that process?

CC: These are extremely trying times for our country. Many communities we care about are feeling threatened and vulnerable. Given the challenges of this moment, as well as the opportunities that come with the changes we've experienced at the fund, it's an opportune time for us to think creatively about how we can have more impact.

Like any other foundation, we are always evaluating how we can do a better job. But in the coming months, we want to take some time to think in new ways about how to make sure we're doing everything we can to make a positive difference and up our game. That's going to mean reflecting on some of the lessons from our recent work, weighing where we've made mistakes and why, and understanding how we can maximize the huge potential of our staff and our nonprofit, government, and business partners to make the world a better, fairer place.

PND: What is your top priority in 2019?

CC: I'll share two key priorities. The first is to work with our board and staff so that we're clearer on how the fund will have continued impact. The second is to make sure we're moving full speed ahead with our work at a time when fundamental rights and opportunities hang in the balance. That's why we're investing in the drive for equal civil rights protections for LGBT Americans. It's why we're working with the San Francisco Unified School District to help all children reach their potential. And it's why we're supporting new racial equity work and helping movement nonprofits strengthen their leadership and their ability to raise the resources they need to make a difference. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can in 2019 to stand up for the idea that this is a better nation when everyone has a chance to thrive.

PND: In addition to leading the fund's immigrant rights grantmaking, you served on the board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) for seven years, including two years as co-chair. Are grantmakers in the field of immigrant rights more open to collaboration today than they were, say, a decade ago, and if so, why? Do you think that's the case in other fields as well?

CC: GCIR has been at the leading edge in facilitating funder collaboration to get better results. It's part of a sea change over the last decade in philanthropy's approach to working together. No matter the size of our grantmaking budgets, there's a growing understanding that we can't solve big, intractable problems alone. We're more effective when we form strategic partnerships and check our institutional egos at the door.

You only need to look at the incredible surge in voter turnout in Orange County last November, particularly in communities of color, to see how funder collaboration pays off. We've been working with other funders and local partners for years — in Orange County and other parts of California — to build power and voice in low-income communities. Those partnerships are starting to deliver real results. The Haas, Jr. Fund could have invested in this work on our own, but we're achieving so much more by teaming up with our funder partners.

PND: In July 2017, you wrote in a blog post, "Why I am Hopeful," that "[t]he bottom line is that 'We the People' need to stand up and use our voices — and our votes — to make a difference...and it will require deep investments in community organizing, civic participation, movement-building, and leadership development." Are you more hopeful today? Are you seeing those kinds of philanthropic investments at the levels needed?

CC: The results of the November 2018 elections make me more hopeful. We had record numbers of women, LGBT candidates, and people of color running for office in California and nationally. We had millennials voting in record numbers. And in many communities, it was low-income voters and voters of color who put their favored candidates or issues over the top. A lot of that is the result of local groups doing the hard work of organizing, lifting up community leaders, and educating people about important policy issues.

We have a long way to go, but we're finally starting to see the electorate and our elected leadership moving in the direction where they resemble the larger population, and that's great for our democracy. But it's never a given that this kind of progress will continue or that we won't backtrack. There are real barriers in the way of broader participation for many communities, and voter disenfranchisement is real. No matter what issues our foundations are focused on, we can go a long way to achieving the goal of a fairer, more equal, more representative society if we invest in the work of organizing and voting.

PND: Before joining the fund, you worked on issues such as affordable housing, homelessness, workforce development, and community development. From your perspective, what, if we're able to achieve it, would "a society that supports, respects, and values the contributions of all people" look like?

CC: When I drop off my six-year-old daughter at school in the morning, I see all these beautiful kids of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and talents. I look at those little faces and I wish every one of those kids, along with every other child across this country, got a fair shot at reaching their full potential. That's one way to measure how we're doing when it comes to creating a more just and equal society. What would it look like to give every child and every person an equitable chance at opportunity?

Looking at it that way can take us out of our silos and help us see how our work connects across issues and communities. In California's K-12 public schools, more than half of all students are Latino. So you can't really look at education in California without looking simultaneously at immigration. And what about those students who are African American, or LGBT, or from homes where parents are struggling to get by? It's hard to separate what's happening in our schools from all the other things happening in kids' lives. All these issues are interconnected, and we will have greater impact to the extent that we think holistically about how to solve problems and spur real change.

PND: The lack of diversity in leadership positions within the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors is a continuing topic of discussion. What needs to happen for that to change?

CC: On my first day in my new role at the fund, a colleague told me that only 1.3 percent of foundations are led by API (Asian Pacific Islander) women. That really surprised me. So did the fact that only around 10 percent of foundation CEOs are people of color. Philanthropy clearly has a ways to go before we can say our field is truly representative of our society.

That said, I am starting to see some positive movement. I think the path to continued progress lies in changing how philanthropy values talent and experience. Traditionally, the philanthropic field has valued academics with PhDs and those from elite educational backgrounds. But increasingly, I think philanthropy is recognizing what leaders bring to a foundation when they are closer to communities and community issues. There is a trend toward valuing lived experience. At the Haas, Jr. Fund and other foundations, you increasingly see staff who have experienced firsthand some of the fundamental inequities in our society. And you see foundations placing a real value on their staff's ability to connect and partner with people across races and cultures, whether in our local communities or around our interconnected world. Philanthropy is more effective when leaders and staff reflect — and deeply understand — the communities at the heart of our work.

Kyoko Uchida

Facing the Future Together

February 05, 2019

Candid_yellowThe social sector is big. It's essential. It's complex. For a combined 85 years, Foundation Center and GuideStar have helped people make sense of that complexity.

But the world faces growing challenges: polarization, climate change, technological revolution, and poverty and inequality. Foundation Center and GuideStar must do more to support the social sector.

That's why we are combining our talent, technology, data, and leadership to become a new organization, Candid. There is so much more we can do together:

  • We can offer a 360-degree view of the work of social good — who's doing what, where, on the issues that matter to people around the world.
  • We can bring the nonprofit sector closer to having common profiles for every organization and in doing so promote more efficient systems for raising funds, managing grants and donations, and measuring impact
  • We can offer insights that were never before possible and share those insights in clear and actionable ways.
  • We can link the learning of changemakers around the world so they can work smarter, together.

Combining two historic organizations — with tools used by millions of people across hundreds of platforms — will be challenging, to say the least. Over the next several years, we will be weaving together technology systems, petabytes of data and content, dozens of products and services, and, most importantly, the deep knowledge and experience of more than 200 staff. But we are confident we can do it.

Candid_illustration_philantopic-large
To guide this transition, we will aspire to the ideal embodied in our new name. The word candid speaks to the roots of Foundation Center and GuideStar, organizations born out of the need to provide fair, accurate, and objective information about foundations and nonprofits. It also informs how we will work, speaking to our future imperative of continuing to earn our stakeholders' trust in an information-wary world. To succeed, we will need to be honest about what works, what doesn't, what we know, and what we still need to figure out. In this vein, as Candid, we will use transparency as a guiding value in our communication with you.

Brad_jacob_compTomorrow two of our colleagues will discuss how we became Candid and what this change means for you. But now we turn to you. Tell us what you'd like to see in a stronger social sector: how can information transform the work of social good?

Bradford Smith is president and Jacob Harold is executive vice president of Candid.

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (January 2019)

February 01, 2019

The weather outside is frightful, but we've got some January reads that are downright insightful. So grab a throw, a cup of your favorite warm beverage, and enjoy.

Interested in contributing to PND or PhilanTopic? We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Cryptocurrency and the Community Foundation Field

January 29, 2019

BitcoinWhen you hear words like bitcoin, cryptocurrency, or blockchain, what comes to mind? For many, it's technologies that are difficult or impossible to understand. For others, it's the critical components of the infrastructure that will drive commerce in the future, both online and off, as well as the method by which most data, including charitable spending data, will be tracked. Regardless of your view, one thing is certain: cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, undergirded by blockchain technology, will continue to proliferate and be embraced by the philanthropic sector. In fact, they already are.

In December, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that an estimated five hundred to a thousand nonprofits in the United States are poised to accept some form of cryptocurrency, having established accounts with payment service providers like Bitpay. Meanwhile, a handful of well-known nonprofit organizations — including DonorsChoose.org, the American Red Cross, and Fidelity Charitable — have already begun to accept crypto. Indeed, some experts believe that blockchain, and the digital currencies based on it, could fundamentally change the way philanthropy is transacted. For donors, the dual benefits of avoiding capital gains and being able to track a donation through to its intended beneficiary are of great interest. Whatever the use case, it's clear that some holders of cryptocurrency are ready and willing to mobilize their digital assets in support of charitable causes.

CF Insights, a service of Foundation Center, recently conducted a short survey to learn more about the extent to which community foundations have engaged in these types of digital transactions, and we've published the results in A Scan of Community Foundations Accepting Cryptocurrency Gifts (10 pages, PDF). In analyzing the responses, three takeaways became clear.

1. A growing number of community foundations are putting processes in place — quickly — to accept cryptocurrency. Of the 122 community foundations that responded to the survey, 27 (or 22 percent) said they are equipped, or have already begun, to process gifts of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, with most of this activity having taken place over the last two years. Another 48 community foundations told us they have plans in place to begin accepting digital assets in the not-too-distant future.

Fig.1.1_CF Insights_fdns accepting crypto

2. Several community foundations began accepting cryptocurrency in response to a donor's request. Part of the value a community foundation provides to donors is their nimbleness and ability to respond to donors' changing needs. For the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, this meant becoming familiar with the steps necessary to process a bitcoin donation during the busy year-end giving season. At the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundations, it meant staff responding to a donor's request to accept a donation of bitcoin after speaking with peers and experts and evaluating the associated risks. For both organizations, cryptocurrency was another method for turning a portion of an individual's wealth into a charitable gift, and their ability to quickly add a state-of-the-art tool to their respective toolboxes at the request of donors demonstrate their value as vehicles for private philanthropy.

3. There are pain points and challenges in accepting donation of cryptocurrencies that community foundations need to be aware of. It shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that equipping your organization to accept donations of cryptocurrency comes with its own set of challenges. Several respondents to our survey cited the risk of hacking as a concern (and a few respondents even requested not to be identified in any communications because of that concern). Others ran into problems when they tried to establish organizational accounts on some of the popular cryptocurrency transaction platforms, claiming that some platforms requested copies of board members' personal documents, including passports. The Chronicle article notes the decision by many in the nonprofit sector to wait until more regulation is in place before they jump into the crypto space.

The most cited concern by far, however, was the price volatility of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. When CF Insights launched its survey in July, the value of a single bitcoin was roughly $8,000. By the time we had collected survey responses and signed off on the design of the report, its value had been nearly halved, to $4,200. And by New Year's Eve, its value had dropped to just under $3,700. As I write this sentence, the value of a single bitcoin has slipped further, to $3,400, and where it goes from here is anyone's guess.

To learn more about community foundations and the intriguing world of blockchain and cryptocurrency, check out A Scan of Community Foundations Accepting Cryptocurrency Gifts. In it, you'll read about some of the other digital assets that community foundations are accepting, the platforms they are using, and the value (in range form) of the gifts they have accepted to date. At the same time, pay attention to what one of the survey respondents told us: the "infrastructure to receive, hold, transact, and report on crypto gifts is nascent and rapidly evolving. Vendor solutions and foundation procedures will probably look different over time" as the technology continues to spread and evolve. As it does, CF Insights will look to conduct follow-up research to learn more about what community foundations are doing to adapt to this brave new world.

David Rosado is members services manager for CF Insights, a service of Foundation Center.

Weekend Link Roundup (January 26-27, 2019)

January 27, 2019

Oepn_for_businessA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Communications/Marketing

In a guest post on Kivi Leroux Miller's Nonprofit Communications blog, Peter Panepento, philanthropic practice leader for Turn Two Communications, shares ten mistakes you need to avoid if you want to get more media coverage.

Corporate Philanthropy

New research from Marianne Bertrand and her colleagues at the University of Chicago  that matches charitable-giving data of Fortune 500 companies with a record of public comments submitted to the federal government on proposed regulations between 2003 and 2015 shows how individual corporations influence the rulemaking process via gifts to nonprofits. Christopher Ingraham reports for the Washington Post.

International Affairs/Development

Nonprofit organization Verra has launched the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard, or SD VISta for short. Under the standard, which sets out rules and criteria for the design, implementation, and assessment of projects designed to deliver sustainable development benefits, projects must demonstrate to the satisfaction of a third-party assessor that they advance the SDGs. Amy Brown reports for Triple Pundit.

Nonprofits

Nonprofit AF's Vu Le seems to have struck a nerve — eighty-two comments and counting — with his latest: Why nonprofit staff should not be asked to donate to the organizations they work for.

Over at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies site, Lester Salamon, the center's director, announces the release of the 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report, which found, among other things, that for-profit companies are making significant inroads in key nonprofit fields, cutting into nonprofits' market share.

Philanthropy

Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan checks in with a stout defense of philanthropy, including three examples of trending philanthropic critiques that seem to be "a bit iffy." 

In his latest, Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther suggests that the important thing about wealthy people like the late Jack Bogle, the "father of the index fund," is how they make their money, not how they give their away.

Thanks to some good, old-fashioned reporting by The Guardian's Mark Harris, we now know a lot more about Elon Musk's secretive private foundation than we had previously. 

On the Ford Foundation's Equals Change blog, Hilary Pennington (executive vice president for program), Bess Rothenberg (senior director, strategy and learning), and Megan Morrison (officer, strategy and learning) explain what the foundation learned from the most recent Grantee Perception Report it commissioned from the Center for Effective Philanthropy and what it is doing to strengthen its relationships with grantees.

Whose voices should foundations listen to when they are ready "to engage meaningfully with those who would question their grantmaking strategies?" asks Ryan Schlegel on NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog. In other words, asks Schlegel, who has power and privilege in a changing country and world? And who should?

In a post on The Philanthropic Initiative blog, TPI president Ellen Remmer announces the launch of Invest for Better, a field-building initiative aimed at mobilizing women "to invest their personal, philanthropic, and institutional capital for good." 

Transparency

And philanthropy writer and communications strategist Elaine Gast Fawcett shares a few stories on the Transparency Talk blog that illustrate how family funders are thinking and acting when it comes to transparency.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

The More You Know, The Greater the Impact of Your Giving

January 26, 2019

Keep-calm-and-make-informed-giving-choicesAccording to the latest edition of Giving USA, charitable giving in the U.S. exceeded $400 billion in 2017, a record. And in each of the four categories covered by the report – giving by individuals, by foundations, by bequest, and by corporations — the numbers were up, continuing recent trends.

As 2019 begins, donors need to start thinking about their giving — and the things they can do to ensure it has impact. One thing they can do is identify organizations most likely to deliver and/or create value for their clients. How?

Here are a few suggestions:

Find organizations whose work aligns with your goals. To ensure your charitable gifts are deployed effectively, head over to a site like Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator, for objective ratings designed to help you find charities you can trust. Your research should focus on organizations whose missions align with your own goals and objectives. GuideStar is another good source of information on nonprofits.

A little Google goes a long way. A simple Google search not only will point you to an organization's website, it can also reveal information about the organization's reputation. Are there reports out there critical or questioning of its work, its leadership, its finances? Media outlets often report on charities that have violated the trust of their donors, like this report by CNN.

Check the metrics. Ask the following when evaluating the donor-worthiness of an organization:

  • Does it rigorously and consistently measure and report its results?
  • Do those results make sense?
  • Do you believe it is being transparent and honest about its results?

Charity Navigator describes in detail how to assess a charity's level of transparency. Look for statistics and information like this on the organization's website. Annual reports should be simple to understand and offer some information about the organization's impact. Holding nonprofits accountable for their results is something every donor should do.

How transparent is the organization about its finances? U.S.-based charities with tax-exempt status are required by law to file federal tax Form 990. They're also required to have their finances audited. Good nonprofits should make it easy for you to find and access multiple years of their audited financial statements and tax filings. (GuideStar is a great place to start.) If you have trouble finding an organization's 990 online, ask it to send you a copy; the speed with which the request is filled will tell you much about the organization's commitment to transparency.

Check an organization's operating and fundraising costs. "Overhead" is the necessary cost of doing business, for nonprofits as much as for for-profit businesses — it's what enables an organization to keep the lights on, pay its staff, and deliver on its mission. But not all overhead is created equal. Look at a charity's 990 tax returns to determine how much of its budget goes to overhead and fundraising and how much goes to programs and then compare that to the ratio for other organizations doing the same kind of work. The organization's annual report should provide you with this information, but if it doesn't, ask.

Look at the organization's leadership. What do you know about the people who lead the organization? The more you know, the more confident you can be in your giving decisions. A study published in Ivey Business Journal identified both personal and organizational traits and behaviors that should define today's nonprofit organizations and leaders, executives and board members alike. They include:

  • A commitment to financial stability and responsibility
  • A commitment to diversifying and/or expanding service offerings
  • A knack for identifying and addressing competitive challenges
  • A knack for identifying and addressing operational/effectiveness challenges
  • A commitment to building technological capacity
  • A commitment to increased transparency and accountability
  • A commitment to strengthening alignment with the board
  • An ability to develop a pipeline of young, diverse leaders

Can charities recover costs and still be charities? Many charities are able to recover a portion of their costs without sacrificing the quality of their services — an added incentive for donors committed to ensuring the sustainability of the organization and its work. For example, some charities charge their beneficiaries a nominal fee for services, which has the benefit of ensuring that the organization's services are truly wanted while giving beneficiaries more control over the provision of those services. Organizations should always be looking for financially sustainable strategies that are viable beyond the period covered by a donor's gift. My organization breaks down financial sustainability into three buckets: cost recovery, cross-subsidization, and profitability. The benefits in terms of our programs are obvious, enabling them to have greater impact with commensurately less reliance on individual donors.

Evaluate donor dependency. Donor dependency is a measure of how much a nonprofit relies on the contributions of individual donors to fund itself. According to Forbes, the average for a small sample it analyzed was 86 percent, meaning that the typical charity in the sample was able to bank 14 percent of its fundraising revenue for the future. If one is searching for a nonprofit that can survive a crisis or economic downturn, a rating below 100 may indicate it has substantial financial reserves or diversified revenue streams that make it more resilient when times get tough.

Look for an entrepreneurial mind-set. Nonprofits have evolved a great deal over the last twenty-five years, and many have adopted best practices from the private sector in an effort to improve their results and maximize the cost efficiency of their operations. The advantages of these kinds entrepreneurial strategies are many.

In short, as you're thinking about your giving in 2019 — and beyond — look for charities and nonprofits that inspire confidence in their ability to deliver innovative, services cost effectively and achieve real, lasting results.

Headshot_christopher_purdyChristopher Purdy is president and CEO of DKT International. From 1996 to 2011, he served as country director of DKT programs in Turkey, Ethiopia, and Indonesia, where he managed the largest private social marketing family planning program in the world. His professional interests include social marketing, global health, and socially responsible capitalism.

Employee Pressure Will Help Redefine CSR in 2019

January 23, 2019

GlobeThis past year marked a turning point in corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, with an increase of activism among corporate leaders and more pressure from employees urging employers to step up their philanthropic efforts. Early in the year, a piece I wrote for Blackbaud's CSR 2020: Experts Look Ahead examined trends at the intersection of employee engagement and community impact. At the time, I predicted there would be an increase in private-sector activity focused on social issues, especially as related to disaster recovery and resiliency, as well as a rise in CEO activism. Given the events of the past twelve months, it is safe to say those predictions not only proved true but have gained momentum.

Corporations as Activists

Just last month, 3BL Media and GlobeScan released survey results indicating that eight of ten corporate leaders believe companies are obligated to speak out on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. They also predict that, inspired by the examples of Patagonia (environmental sustainability), Microsoft (diversity and inclusion), Chobani (immigration and refugee rights), and others, more than 60 percent of CEOs will increase their ESG advocacy over the next eighteen months.

Last year, Larry Fink, who serves as CEO of BlackRock, one of the world's largest investment management firms, outlined a new model for corporate governance in his annual letter to shareholders. In his letter, Fink emphasized BlackRock's commitment to considering both financial and social performance in all its investments. As 2019 gets under way, we've also seen the mainstream business press question, in pieces in the Financial Times and Fortune, the Milton Friedman doctrine that places the maximization of shareholder value above all else. Why? While core corporate values and building brand equity certainly are factors, the main benefits cited in these and other articles are employee-focused. Respondents to the 3BL Media/GlobeScan survey believe their organizations should be motivated by a desire to demonstrate a commitment beyond profit and, in a tightening labor market, do what they can to meet the expectations of employees, who have more options to take their skills elsewhere than they’ve had in a long time.

According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials want corporate leaders to commit more aggressively to making a real impact on ESG issues while preparing their organizations (and employees) for a rapidly changing business environment. As CEOs grow increasingly vocal on important social and environmental issues, their companies will follow suit and work to demonstrate the values that employees are seeking through new philanthropic investments, volunteer programs, and community initiatives. While such activism has been modeled by some of the world's largest companies and more outspoken CEOs, companies of all sizes, across all industries, will face growing employee pressure, in 2019 and beyond, to act on issues of social and community import.

Skills-based volunteerism has already emerged as one of the most tangible, measurable connection points between employee engagement, values, and corporate community goals, with more than 50 percent of companies today offering a formal pro bono program to employees. In the next few years, we'll see more of those programs evolve past their pilot stage, embed themselves more deeply in the companies and communities in which they operate, and sharpen their focus on impact — for the nonprofit, the employee, the company, and the community.

Skills-Based Volunteerism to Build Disaster Resiliency

The past two years have seen an uptick in natural disasters across the globe and here in the United States, where communities have been battered by hurricanes, wildfires, mudslides, epic snowstorms, and earthquakes. Given the growing threat of climate change, there is little reason to believe that we  will experience fewer such events going forward. The good news is that American companies and corporations have responded to such disasters in force. Indeed, CECP Giving in Numbers: 2018 Edition showed a year-over-year increase of more than 300 percent in cash giving by corporations for disaster relief. While corporate partners have been quick to provide funding and launch employee donation drives when disaster strikes, these efforts often only address immediate relief needs. But as we've all learned, longer-term assistance for recovery and resiliency efforts also is needed — and presents an opportunity for pro bono volunteers to play a larger, more meaningful role in disaster recovery.

In the wake of a number of disasters in 2018 and 2017, Common Impact asked our partners a few critical questions: How could organizations work with employees from local companies to better equip their communities and region to deal with the next emergency? What skills and resources do they have that would best complement those of other institutions and organizations in their area? What we heard demonstrates that skills-based volunteerism and cross-sector collaboration can be a powerful way to help communities both prepare for disasters and support their ability to recover more quickly when disaster strikes.

It's a natural next step. The private sector's approach to disaster relief is grounded in service and sits within the context of a growing business imperative around climate change. For better or worse, natural disasters have become fertile testing ground for companies to band together to solve challenges larger than those they could reasonably tackle themselves.

Common Impact is hard at work shaping a more effective and efficient role for corporate volunteers and nonprofits seeking to support disaster relief and recovery efforts. Using our experience developing successful skills-based volunteer programs, our team has conducted extensive research and convened disaster response experts to better understand the critical role pro bono service can play in helping communities sustain their services, meet acute and unanticipated needs, and recover from the impact of disaster more quickly and efficiently. We believe this work can and will help the private sector move from a responsive approach to stronger, more proactive engagement.

While the business sector initiated the shift toward pairing purpose and profit, the concept will be tested again in 2019 — and the years to come. To be ready, companies need to identify their core priorities and make sure a social mandate is included in those priorities. Disasters, and the future, won’t wait.

Headshot_danielle_hollyDanielle Holly (@dholly8) is the CEO of Common Impact, an organization that helps companies and individuals invest their unique talents for environmental and social good. She is also a contributing writer to Nonprofit Quarterly, a member of the NationSwell Council, and has served on the board of directors for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and Net Impact NYC.

Weekend Link Roundup (January 19-20, 2019)

January 20, 2019

Shutdown+Architect+of+the+Capitol+US+Customs+and+Border+ProtectionA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Civil Society

According to a poll funded by the Knight Foundation, there "remain some aspects of American life where political partisanship does not yet dominate" — and philanthropy is one of them. Martin Morse Wooster reports for Philanthropy Daily.

Climate Change

"Despite its stature as a major funder of climate-change solutions, [the] MacArthur [Foundation] continues to finance the fossil-fuel industry," writes Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther, and "does so deliberately...by seeking out opportunities to invest in oil and gas...."

Communications/Marketing

On her Getting Attention! blog, Nancy Schwartz shares four steps you can take in 2019 to develop a more effective marketing plan.

Fundraising

Pamela Grow shares ten things your nonprofit can do to make 2019 its most successful fundraising year ever.

Andrea Kihlstedt, president of Capital Campaign Masters and co-creator of the Capital Campaign Toolkit, explains why capital campaigns can be a boon to major gift programs.

Inequality

The racial wealth gap is worse than it was thirty-five years ago. Fast Company's Eillie Anzilotti has the details.

Innovation

"[I]f innovation is essential to the ultimate achievements of the sector, we should spend less time on success, and more time on failure." Rohini Nilekani, philanthropist, social entrepreneur, and writer; and Kyle Zimmer, social entrepreneur and Schwab Foundation Fellow, talk with the folks at the World Economic Forum about failure and the social sector.

International Affairs/Development

A decade ago, microfinance was touted as the solution to global poverty. It hasn't worked out that way. Vox's Stephanie Wykstra takes an-depth look at its successes and failures.

Nonprofits

As we look ahead to a new year, Social Velocity's Nell Edgington has some hopeful words for nonprofit leaders and changemakers.

Is not having a COO a risk for a nonprofit organization? Eugene Fram explores that question through the lens of three different examples.

Philanthropy

Ford Foundation president Darren Walker ushers in the New Year with a clear-eyed analysis of the factors behind our current season of discontent and calls on philanthropy to "dedicate [itself], anew, to the cause of justice."

"Philanthropy's version of the 'gig economy' has bedeviled the progressive nonprofit sector for decades," argues Ryan Schlegel on the NCRP blog. "Nonprofit leaders chase program grants that pay some portion of their bills — effectively serving as short-term contractors for foundations – while hoping one day their luck will break with a general support grant that gives them time and space to actually lead." It's a dynamic, adds Schlegel, that is limiting the effectiveness of progressive foundations and their grantees.

In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO of the Nonprofit Finance Fund and a former program officer at the Rockefeller Foundation, shares seven questions he now wishes he had asked himself and his former foundation colleagues back in the day.

In a guest post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Joanne Kelley, CEO of  the Colorado Association of Funders, a regional philanthropy-serving organization, shares three themes that emerged from an effort in her state to encourage openness and feedback in the philanthropic sector, with the goal of increasing both foundation and nonprofit effectiveness. 

On the Transparency Talk blog, our colleague Janet Camarena chats with Lani Evans,  manager of the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation, the newest foundation with "glasspockets."

Angela Hariche, editor-in-chief at Two Lane Media, has a good Q&A with sector veteran Heather Grady, currently a vice president at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

And the McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, has unveiled a new mission statement.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

The Persistence of False and Harmful Narratives About Boys and Men of Color

January 17, 2019

The following essay is adapted from His Story: Shifting Narratives for Boys of Men of Color: A Guide for Philanthropy (66 pages, PDF), which was developed by the Perception Institute for the Executives' Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. The guide is based on discussions and learnings from the 2015-2017 Narrative Change Collective Action Table hosted by the Executives' Alliance for Boys and Men of Color and was largely written by the Perception Institute's Alexis McGill Johnson and Rachel Godsil.

Toolkit_singlePages-pdf-v2-640x822The tragic, brutal, and untimely deaths of boys and men of color in the last few years reinforce an all-too-familiar feeling:  being a male of color in the United States is perilous. What boys and men of color are experiencing in the real world, we also know, does not veer too far from what's happening in the narratives that have come to shape the lived experience for many boys and men of color. Stories that "dehumanize" young men of color and question their value to society abound. And stories that "super-humanize" the physical characteristics of boys and men of color create fear and distrust. The common denominators in these stories are dominant narratives — stories about boys and men of color that are distorted, repeated, and amplified through media platforms, both traditional media and social media, which fuel negative and vilifying perceptions and bring them to scale. In our work, we've come to define these dominant narratives as the "dragon" we are trying to "slay."

In order to slay the dragon, we first need to understand what a narrative is, how it becomes dominant, and then how current narratives cause harm to our boys and men of color. A narrative is a spoken or written account of connected events. In other words, it is a story we tell to make meaning. Narratives become dominant through repetition, particularly when told about a minority culture through the lens of the ruling culture.

Dominant narratives inform how a majority of people in society perceive and interact with one another. They are comprised of stories and archetypes that portray people of different races and ethnicities — black, Latino, Asian, or Native American — as caricatures rather than as distinct and unique human beings. For boys and men of color, the stereotypes may differ depending upon the particular race or ethnicity and historical context, but for each group, these stereotypes are distorted and limiting. Think, for example, of Black and Latino men and how stereotypes depict them as dangerous, threatening, and poor. In contrast, the dominant narratives of white men portray them as hardworking, industrious, innovative, and successful.

Dominant narratives, while constantly evolving, are rooted in the racial history of the United States, specifically the parts of that history that we do not often discuss, such as slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and other times of racial bias. As we describe in more detail in the toolkit, the effects of being defined by a dominant narrative infuse every aspect of life for boys and men of color, from housing and education to health care and career opportunities, making them more vulnerable to violence and more likely to end up in jail.

Dominant narratives about boys and men of color can also trigger or be reinforced by internalized negative self-perceptions among community members. The stories we tell about each other influence the stories we see in ourselves, making our narrative challenges both interrelated and mutually reinforcing — the external reinforcing the internal and vice versa. But it is often the dominant narrative that does the most work in driving how others see boys and men of color and how they see themselves. While the toolkit focuses on boys and men of color, these same processes are also applicable to narratives about other populations, including women and girls of color.

The Impact of Dominant Narratives

Dominant narratives of boys and men of color constrain how we perceive their potential and limit our expectations of them. In a sense, narratives become reality as boys and young men of color have their opportunities for advancement truncated throughout their lives. As boys, they are irrationally perceived as threatening rather than innocent; as students, they are labeled as disruptive rather than recognized for their academic potential; as job applicants, they are disproportionately passed over, sometimes for less-qualified candidates.

At the same time, boys of color are more likely than their peers to attend schools that have fewer experienced educators and lack resources. They are less likely to emerge from high school prepared for college and less able to compete for good jobs or access startup capital for business ventures. Most unjustifiably — and shamefully for the broader culture around them — they experience extremely high levels of contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems. In moments of crisis, dominant narratives lead to the assumption that the behavior of boys of color must be harmful and deadly, which in turn precipitates unjust and dangerously false interpretations of this behavior. When held as a society, dominant narratives both mirror and, perversely, provide justification for the scant allocation of institutional resources for boys and men of color, limiting their opportunities and providing system-wide barriers to their success.

All of these factors can also lead to internalized racism or internalized oppression, causing boys and men of color to see themselves through the lens of the false dominant narratives that limit their opportunity and shape their lives. As Professor Laura Padilla has noted, internalized oppression and racism are insidious forces that cause marginalized groups to turn on themselves, often without even realizing it. The combined effect of internalized oppression and internalized racism is often devastating — it can reinforce self-fulfilling negative stereotypes, resulting in self-destructive behavior.

Donna Bivens has described the phenomenon further:

Because internalized racism is a systemic oppression, it must be distinguished from human wounds like self-hatred or "low self esteem," to which all people are vulnerable. It is important to understand it as systemic because that makes it clear that it is not a problem simply of individuals. It is structural. Thus, even people of color who have "high self-esteem" must wrestle with the internalized racism that infects us, our loved ones, our
institutions, and our communities....

This last point is a crucial reminder that as we pursue our work, we must be mindful that dominant narratives affect communities internally as well as externally. This phenomenon is particularly noteworthy given the far reach and impact of media with the advancement of technology. For this reason, we can no longer have separate messages for an internal and external audience; rather, narrative change work must effectively address both audiences collectively and consistently.

Framing and the Limits of Traditional Responses

Given what we know about how dominant narratives and the damage they can inflict, why can we not seem to do more to address them? The simple answer is that the go-to approaches we have used for decades are either outdated or ineffective to address the scale of the challenge. In fact, they can even backfire on us.

Since the civil rights movement, three major innovations in communications and thinking about race and racism have furthered our understanding about how race functions in our society and provided the basis for our appeals beyond the civil rights community for progressive policies and changes in practice:

Disparity Documentation: data-driven analysis used to demonstrate the lack of full inclusion of people of color in society.

Structural Analysis of Policy and Opportunity: recognition that racial and economic inequalities stem from policies that determine institutional opportunities or create exclusionary barriers for people of color.

Intersectionality: recognition of the complex means by which marginalization and oppression operate in a person's everyday life as a result of embodying multiple interconnected and overlapping stigmatized social identities such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

While these approaches are critical to analysis and determining policy positions, they can be detrimental to the work of persuading the broader public that the policy position should be adopted. These approaches are not only insufficient to challenge dominant narratives, they may reinforce them. Egalitarian thinking has prevailed, yet our unconscious mind, which determines most of our behavior, remains highly influenced by stereotypes, racial anxiety, and preference for the dominant in-group. Our data, history, and logic are sound; however, social science research over the past two decades tells us that we need to move beyond the rational in order to compel change.

As a result, these approaches — which have helped paint a broad portrait of the experiences of people of color in America — cannot translate data into a sense of moral urgency or empathy. With competing explanations for racial gaps and disparities, they do not inspire those not affected directly by racial bias to create change. They do not help manage racial anxiety or racial tension, which seem to have spiked in recent years. And most importantly, they can create a sense of inevitability or intractability of racial subordination within communities of color that triggers hopelessness and despair.

When emotions and fear are primary drivers of human behavior, "rationality" becomes irrelevant. To be successful in persuading others, we must affirm the centrality of emotions and values in our reactions to race and gender. We need to create a meaningful cultural shift in the conversation about race when ideas about race are entrenched in both our discourse and language (prompting predictable reactions) and also in our unconscious minds.

Advocates should be aware of the missteps, or insufficiencies, in every stage of the narrative-building process so that we can foster open-mindedness and collaboration rather than cause further polarization. Through this work, then, we need to build upon, supplement, critique — and most importantly not be limited to — the frames we have used in the past.

The toolkit includes some often-used frames derived from our policy-driven approaches that have been developed over the years. Each has done valuable and important work in the fight against racism. But each frame also has accompanying challenges or limitations that can impede the narrative expansion we seek.

The frames described are critical components of our work: we must teach more accurate history; "whiteness as a default" is a reality we must address; identifying and building upon our shared values will be part of coalition building; and we must work to prevent the harms that stem from both implicit and explicit biases. However, these frames are inadequate and incomplete. The focus of our shared work is to create opportunities for sustained behavior change. If our current frames haven't been effective in challenging the distorted perceptions and dominant narratives about boys and men of color and people of color overall — and evidence suggests we have not — we need to find new approaches.

[Review] 'Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance'

January 16, 2019

In Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, Edgar Villanueva, vice president of programs and advocacy at the Schott Foundation for Public Education, asserts that colonialism is not a thing of the past, but lives on, like a virus, in existing systems and structures, including philanthropy and social finance. In the book, Villanueva, an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe and a veteran of the philanthropic sector who has worked in program positions at the Marguerite Casey Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, examines how colonization has affected the sector and his own life, and offers a prescription for rectifying its most pernicious consequences.

Decolonizing_wealth_shadowOne of the first things he does is draw a distinction between colonialism and immigration: immigrants come to a new country expecting to abide by the existing laws of the land; colonialism, in contrast, is all about imposing control over new lands and expropriating their resources — by force, if necessary. Colonialism is about establishing dominance over others, which Villanueva likens to a "zombie invasion" in that "[c]olonizers insist on taking over the bodies, minds, and souls of the colonized."

To make his point, Villanueva points to the history of Indian boarding schools in the United States. In the late nineteenth century, as the so-called Indian wars were winding down, the federal government forcibly separated tens of thousands of Native children from their families and communities and sent them off to schools where their "education" included being stripped of their cultural identity. Children were not allowed to use or be called by their own names or to speak their Native language. The philosophy, as the founder of the first off-reservation boarding school put it, was to "kill the Indian, and save the man." The psychic, social, and cultural trauma experienced by Native children in these often-brutal environments was compounded by malnutrition, forced labor, and other forms of physical abuse that went unmarked and unaddressed.

At its heart, though, colonialism is about white supremacy; it is, writes Villanueva, "racism in institutional form," and all institutions and systems in the United States, even the most well-intentioned, have been distorted by its legacy. In the first half of the book, Villanueva provocatively describes the way this has played out over time using the slave plantation as an analogy. Overseers are generally white men or white-controlled institutions, the owners of wealth and power whose ill-gotten gains derive from the exploitation of land, resources, and people. People of color working within these institutions are like house slaves, often silenced or pushed out if they do not go along with the status quo. Communities of color are the field slaves, supplicants for assistance whose need was caused by exploitation.

According to Villanueva, the goal of the colonizer is to accumulate as much wealth as possible. In the U.S., that wealth was created by centuries of genocidal policies, land confiscation, and slavery, followed by a century of discriminatory laws and practices that denied communities of color access to white-controlled sources of wealth.

But if the love of money is the root of all evil, money itself, for Villanueva, is value neutral, neither good nor evil. Which means it can be used to help facilitate healing from trauma and restore harmony to a world out of balance. In the second half of the book, Villanueva suggests what this "decolonizing" of wealth might look like.

It begins with an acknowledgement of our history, deep grief over how the colonizer mindset has affected us all (regardless of the color of our skin), and genuine apologies. It also requires moving money to where the trauma is deepest — something that can only be known by those who have experienced it. Just as federally qualified health centers must have a governing board comprised of a majority (at least 51 percent) of patients in order to qualify for federal funds, Villanueva wonders what things would look like if half of all foundation staff and boards were comprised of individuals from the communities being served. One example: the Potlatch Fund, a Native-led nonprofit in Seattle, Washington, allocates all of its grant dollars to Native peoples, and its by-laws require that two-thirds of its board seats be held by Native Americans. He then points to the emergence of participatory grantmaking in philanthropy and participatory budgeting at the municipal level as signs of the growing democratization of institutional decision-making.

At the same time, a foundation's investment strategies cannot be divorced from its mission. Institutional philanthropy cannot expect to drive meaningful change when only 5 percent of the assets it controls is allocated to grantmaking while the other 95 percent is invested in pursuit of financial returns — often in the very companies creating the social and environmental problems foundations are trying to address. Aware of this conundrum, the F.B. Heron Foundation, in 1996, began taking steps to use its corpus more intentionally as a means of generating greater social impact. Half a dozen years later, in 2012, the foundation made the decision to invest a hundred percent of its assets in service to its mission. What might happen if every foundation committed to using its assets the same way?

Inevitably, decolonizing wealth must address the issue of reparations — an issue, writes Villanueva, that institutional philanthropy, with more than $800 billion sitting in endowments, has the means to address. Of that $800 billion, only 5 percent is distributed in the form of grants each year, and only 8 percent of that is explicitly targeted to communities of color. A sector created to do good, says Villanueva, simply must do better. To that end, he floats the idea of a "reparations tithe" — a voluntary commitment by foundations to direct 10 percent of their assets to the establishment of a trust fund that would provide grants to Native American and African American communities in support of asset- and wealth-building initiatives.

Villanueva closes his book by reminding readers of the Native principle of "All My Relations" — a world in which everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent. "All My Relations means that everyone is at home here," he writes. “Everyone has a responsibility in making things right. Everyone has a role in the process of healing, regardless of whether they caused or received more harm. All our suffering is mutual. All our healing is mutual. All our thriving is mutual.” Like two other recent publications, Anand Giridharadas' Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World and Rob Reich's Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better, his book is a valuable critique of the ways in which philanthropy perpetuates inequities, hierarchy, and oppression and an urgent call for it to engage more deeply in the healing process.

Grace Sato is a Knowledge Services manager at Foundation Center. For more great reviews, visit the Off the Shelf section in PND.

Driving Improved Access to Quality Health Care in Developing Countries

January 14, 2019

Project_cure_volunteersDespite the many impressive advances in public health we hear about on a regular basis, access to high-quality health care remains a pressing global issue. In developing countries, where traditional barriers to quality health care are exacerbated by inadequate medical infrastructure and a shortage of providers, millions of people suffer and die from conditions for which effective interventions exist simply because of a lack of access to needed care and resources.

According to a World Health Organization/World Bank Group report, at least 400 million people globally do not have access to one or more essential health services, while 6 percent of people in low- and middle-income countries are pushed further into poverty by health care-related spending. Tragically, a recent study published in The Lancet estimates that 15.6 million preventable deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries every year, including 8.6 million that probably could have been prevented through high-quality health care. Of those 8.6 million deaths, some 5 million involved patients who received poor health care.

Statistics like these underscore the fact that access to quality health care is an urgent problem — one that demands a coordinated, multi-faceted response. Underresourced health systems in developing countries invariably mean a shortage of trained health care workers, limited inventories of medical supplies and medications, and inadequate public health surveillance systems. To address these issues, efforts must be made not only to increase access to care on the ground, but to enhance existing medical infrastructure.

Fortunately, effective strategies and solutions have been created and implemented to help close gaps in health care delivery. Through their program expertise and targeted grants, philanthropic organizations can further leverage the knowledge and existing relationships of organizations on the ground to maximize impact and create healthier futures for millions of people.

Project C.U.R.E., the world's largest supplier of donated medical supplies and equipment, is one such organization. Recognizing that public health systems in developing countries have limited resources to purchase even the most commonplace medical devices — equipment that is critical for the safe and effective prevention, as well as diagnosis and treatment, of disease — it is collaborating with the AmerisourceBergen Foundation, a not-for-profit grant making organization focused on supporting global health-related initiatives, to launch a program that will provide local health care workers in developing countries with the equipment, as well as training, needed to help vulnerable populations.

To that end, an initial grant of $50,000 from ABF to Project C.U.R.E. will help support USAID's Health System Strengthening (HSS) program, an effort to better equip doctors and nurses in developing countries to treat disease, deliver vaccines, perform life-changing surgeries, and make safe childbirth the norm. The grant also will support training for medical professionals participating in the American Academy of Pediatrics' Helping Babies Survive (HBS) program, which provides neonatal care and nutrition for infants and young children around the globe.

Headshot_clark_mazottiThe collaboration of Project C.U.R.E. and the AmerisourceBergen Foundation is a small example of how philanthropy can support improved access to quality health care in developing countries. Through multi-level coordination, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, working together, can begin to break down the barriers that keep vulnerable populations from receiving the reliable, high-quality health care they need. Won’t you join us?

Gina Clark is executive vice president and chief communications and administration officer at AmerisourceBergen and is president of the AmerisourceBergen Foundation. Jan Mazotti is director of communications, marketing and Public Relations at Project C.U.R.E.

Be Bold, Take Risks

January 10, 2019

Take_the_leapEvery year for the last decade or so, organizations have shared their ideas for engaging millennials with me and then asked for my feedback. Thinking about it over the holidays, I realized I received about the same number of approaches in 2018 as in previous years.

I've been studying millennial cause engagement with the Case Foundation for most of that time and have shared all kinds of research findings and insights through the Millennial Impact Project and the newer Cause and Social Influence initiative. Organizations seek me out for advice about their own particular situation, especially as it relates to what is now the largest generation in America. Typically, they do so for one of the following reasons:

  1. they have not been able to cultivate a younger donor base;
  2. their past success is being challenged by new ways of looking at their issue, new technologies, or both;
  3. their donor engagement levels have plateaued; and/or
  4. their revenues have been trending downward and the future looks grim.

After a decade of fielding such approaches, I can usually sniff out whether an organization has what it takes to change — and by that, I mean the kind of change needed not only to attract a new and younger audience, but to engage any person, regardless of age, with an interest in their cause.

Change is hard. It demands a willingness on the part of leadership and staff to leave the status quo behind and push in the direction of a new guiding vision. In other words, it requires people to be fearless.

This kind of approach to change is detailed beautifully by Jean Case in her new book, Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose.

In her book, Jean describes a set of five principles that can be used by any individual or organization to become more relevant and valued in today's fast-changing world. The five principles are:

1: Make a Big Bet. To build a movement or drive real change, organizations (or individuals) need to step outside their comfort zone and make an audacious bet on something they ordinarily would reject as too ambitious or difficult. And the risks associated with a big bet, says Jean, can be mitigated, if organizations are willing to learn and course correct along the way.

If you want to target a younger demographic, go ahead and do it in a big but measurable way that will teach you something. A/B testing one line in an email campaign to a purchased list is a small bet involving little risk and with little potential for changing anything. Building a canvassing team to collect emails at, say, a popular music festival and then tracking engagement after the event is over is a bigger bet involving more time and expense for an unknown return. Creating a mobile unit to travel to locales around the country where younger people tend to live, work, and play and then identifying influencers, micro-influencers, and potential supporters is a much bigger, more expensive bet and thus a much bigger risk. But it's big bets like that which lead to new discoveries and have the potential to propel your cause or movement forward.

2: Be Bold, Take Risks. We all need space and the permission to take risks, especially If we are looking to advance a cause or build a movement. Absent a willingness to take risks, we inevitably become complacent and are unlikely to ever tap into the creativity and enthusiasm needed to drive real change.

Internally, then, organizational cultures need to change from a stance of avoiding risk to one in which it is embraced. In practice, cause leaders should document the risks and lessons that may result from a new idea, campaign, or approach, then inform and reassure staff that though an action has its risks, the potential outcomes and learnings to be gleaned from it are worth more in the long run than not doing anything at all.

3: Make Failure Matter. Each action we take as an organization or individual brings us a step closer to defining a new hypothesis or proving an existing one. I get excited when someone calls me and says, "We tried this and it didn't work, but we learned something" — not because I want to see them fail, but because I know they're taking steps to creating an even better movement or organization built on tested methods and disciplined iteration.

Before you launch your next call to action, campaign, or event, take the time to gather from your internal stakeholders all the hypotheses you hope to test and then post them on a wall or whiteboard. Then, after the campaign or event is over, regroup and determine which of the hypotheses proved out and which didn't, what you think you learned, and what you need to test next.

4: Reach Beyond Your Bubble. "Partnership" is an overused word in the nonprofit sector. Today, being a partner is an expectation, as is finding ways to join forces with others around a common approach to social impact. That said, it tends to be the unlikely partnership that generates the most meaningful change for the issues we serve.

In other words, look beyond the tried-and-true partners you've always worked with and identify organizations and individuals in other sectors who may have a unique asset you can use to advance your cause or movement. It could be a tech company whose technology can help make your approach more impactful for your constituents, or an entity that serves the same constituency but with a different product or value proposition.

5: Let Urgency Conquer Fear. The time to take action is now. Not tomorrow. Today. It's imperative for your organization to develop a sense of urgency about its issue, because a sense of urgency is often the only thing that drives us to find time to make change. Look at any direct mail appeal you received in December: I bet every single one pointed to the urgency of the situation — and most of them probably included an explicit deadline In their call to action ("Act before midnight on December 31!").

Not convinced? What if I told you your organization has a built-in structural need to engage its donors and supporters right now. Give up? It's this: 18 percent of the contacts in your database go bad each year. If you don’t address your donor engagement problem now, you'll be launching your next campaign or call to action already behind. Today is always the best time to experiment, to adopt a new approach, to try something risky that may lead to a breakthrough.

In her book, Jean invites us to ask ourselves, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" — and to answer fearlessly. As I hope I've helped you see, being fearless doesn't mean you have to climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest ocean, or cross the hottest desert. And it doesn't mean you have to gamble your organization's future on an all-or-nothing bet. What it does require is thinking big, being intentional, making (and learning) from mistakes, and taking action, even if it's a small step — today and not tomorrow. You can do it. Good luck, and Happy New Year!

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

Caring for the City’s Caregivers

January 08, 2019

Housing_affordabilityThat wise woman Rosalyn Carter once said, "There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver." We all have a stake, one way or another, in caregiving and in what happens to the individuals who provide that valuable service. And here in New York City, caregivers, quite simply, deserve better care from all of us.

A City in Need of Assistance

New York City turns to its not-for-profit human services sector for essential caregiving for people without homes, parents, or job prospects and, of course, for caregiving services that enable older New Yorkers to age in their communities, living independently with the assistance they need to stay connected to friends and meaningful activity. According to the city's Department for the Aging (DFTA), there are approximately 1.64 million older adults currently residing in the city's five boroughs. As these individuals age, their need for a range of services will grow, and the role that not-for-profits like JASA play in providing those services will become ever more critical.

The continued health of not-for-profit human service organizations relies heavily on employees who interact directly with their clients. Navigating the complexities of the legal, social services, and healthcare systems, not to mention simple life activities, can be challenging at times for any senior, but for those struggling with health, housing, and other issues, it can be overwhelming. There is a real need for the work my organization does, and that need continues to grow.

At the heart of our work are the relationships we build. The key to providing quality services hinges on being able to recruit and retain individuals who genuinely care and are able to establish a connection to the client that fosters trust. Finding skilled individuals is the first challenge. It is not uncommon in 2019 to hear not-for-profit employers say there are more jobs out there than qualified applicants to fill them.

The second, and perhaps even more critical challenge, is retaining good people once you've brought them into your agency. This is particularly true when speaking about social workers, case workers, home health aides — anyone advocating for, providing a necessary service to, or offering older adults assistance in navigating the many challenges they typically face as residents of a large city with a complex and often confusing network of services.

Client trust is key to what we do, and as they say, it is something that must be earned. A revolving door of individuals who continually need to re-familiarize themselves with a client's unique situation tends to breed hostility and distrust. Those feelings, in turn, make it harder for a caregiver to fully learn and understand the challenges that a client faces, and to identify solutions that will benefit her. There's also an added burden on staff when colleagues leave and there are fewer individuals to share the workload — a too-common occurrence that tends to increase stress and reduce an agency's ability to provide quality services, which may prompt still more staff turnover.

Building a Network of Support for Caregivers

There are many dimensions to engaging and retaining good employees. Meaningful work may be the biggest draw — because, to be candid, no one ever went into social work for the money. But there are other incentives, including:

  • having a supervisor who respects you and listens to what you have to say
  • getting recognition for your contributions
  • feeling part of the organization and knowing that it appreciates what you do and what you care about
  • mentoring and professional development

And, of course, compensation that is fair. This is always a challenge. As a not-for-profit agency, we stretch every dollar we take in to provide the critical services New York City's seniors need. Having to rely on government contracts makes it especially difficult. State and city requirements for program staffing and salaries, as well as indirect program costs, stress our bottom line. The burden of ever-increasing accountability adds to the financial challenges we face.

The city's commitment to an increased minimum wage is a good start in terms of bolstering hiring and fostering retention, in that it helps individuals on the lowest end of the pay scale. But there are knock-on effect to a higher minimum wage. Individuals who are supervising minimum-wage employees who are earning more money as of January 1 may find themselves at the same pay level as the people they supervise. Don’t they deserve a pay raise? Where does an agency, hamstrung by inflexible state and city contracts, find the dollars to create a fair pay scale for all its employees?

New York City not-for-profit agencies quite simply find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Advocating for increased wages for hourly workers makes good sense and is the right thing to do. Higher salaries tend to result in a more skilled, committed workforce and better employee retention rates, and ultimately result in a better service model. But if government isn't adequately compensating agencies that provide services, those agencies inevitably will seek out philanthropic dollars to make up the shortfall — and that, as we know, is not something that can be counted on as a consistent, steady source of income.

Here in New York, in addition to inadequate government contracts, employers also face the issue of a higher-than-average cost of living. The reality is that many workers in New York City simply cannot get by doing the work they are trained to do.

A recent report from the New York City comptroller Scott M. Stringer asserts that New York City is suffering from an affordable housing crisis, with individuals at the low end of the pay scale being forced to devote up to 74 percent of their income on housing. We certainly see it affecting the city’s older adult population, with our affordable housing units for seniors having, in some cases, a ten-year waiting list.

And we hear it from our employees as well.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is working to create more affordable housing units in the city, an effort that is to be applauded. Affordable housing is critical to attracting employees to the social services. But the sad reality is that the mayor’s actions to date are not enough. Employees earning minimum wage cannot afford New York's "affordable" housing. And if workers cannot afford to live here, where will agencies find the employees they need to meet the demand for and provide ever-more-critical services?

In his report, Stringer lays out several steps the city could take to help align affordable housing to the need, including working more closely with nonprofit developers to create affordable housing units on city-owned property. But that is only part of the solution. Common sense tells us that a more comprehensive, coordinated government effort is needed if we are to move the needle on this issue. The city and state desperately need federal dollars to address the city’s housing crisis — a crisis that grows more serious by the month for not-for-profits that provide vital community services.

At the end of the day, attracting and retaining workers who provide care to elderly and other vulnerable populations is not just the responsibility of the not-for-profit agencies who employ them; it also the responsibility of government — city, state, and federal — and the officials we elect to represent us.

Headshot_Kathryn_HaslangerKathryn Haslanger was appointed chief executive officer of JASA, a nonprofit agency serving older adults, in November 2012. The organization's services, which include affordable housing, adult protective services, elder abuse prevention and intervention, legal services, health promotion, mental health, home care, and home-delivered meals, are designed to keep seniors — of all races, religions, and economic backgrounds — living safely in their own homes, in familiar surroundings, with independence, dignity, and joy.

Building the Power of Immigrants and Youth of Color

January 02, 2019

BP+LCF+Siren+Rally059852Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN) - Bay Area has spent the last several years building the political power of immigrant and youth voters with the aim of shifting the political landscape in the region and across the state. In 2018, we doubled down on our commitment to building this political muscle by registering more than fifteen thousand new immigrant and youth voters, contacting a hundred and sixty thousand already-registered voters, and mobilizing more than two hundred volunteers. In the 2018 midterm elections, our efforts helped generate one of the highest turnouts in state history for a midterm and resulted in the passage of critical local and state ballot measures, as well as the defeat of House members opposed to immigrant rights. 

One of SIREN's youth leaders, Miguel, participated in phone banking and door-to-door canvassing of Spanish-speaking voters. Although Miguel and his family cannot vote because of their immigration status, the day after the election he told us: "The community was my voice at the polls yesterday. Immigrants and youth came out and demonstrated our power in Northern California and the Central Valley. Through our voting power, we are passing policies in our state and region that are impacting our families, and we will carry our momentum into 2019 to fight for immigrant rights and protections for immigrant youth."

Continue reading »

New Year's Eve Roundup (December 31, 2018)

December 31, 2018

Happy_new_yearHere's our final roundup of the year. Wishing everyone a peaceful and prosperous New Year! For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Economy

No one has ever confused private equity with charity. That's not a surprise. As the Ford Foundation's José García and Xavier de Souza Briggs remind us: "One of the functions of private equity investment is to finance early-stage ideas and companies. Another is to help transform mature companies, for greater competitiveness....But too often," they add, "we have seen private equity funds focus narrowly on maximizing profits through leveraged buyout practices that come at the expense of disadvantaged workers, families, and communities." Must that always be the case? And is there any reason to hope that private equity investors might do something different to address the needs of displaced workers? In a post on the foundation's Equal Change blog, García and de Souza Briggs share a tale that provides a glimmer of hope.

Eillie Anzilotti, an assistant editor for Fast Company's Ideas section, shares seven things we, as a country, can do to create a more inclusive economy.

Fundraising

On the GuideStar blog, veteran fundraiser Barbara O’Reilly, CFRE, looks back at the year just passed and identifies some reasons for concern: giving in each quarter fell about 2 percent on a year-over-year basis, and the number of donors in the first half of the year fell about 7 percent (compared to same period in 2017). Just as importantly, donor retention rates dropped by 4.6 percent. As people start to file their 2018 returns, nobody knows how changes to the tax code will affect giving, but O’Reilly has some sound advice for nonprofits hoping to navigate the next twelve months unscathed.

Giving

Does taking pleasure in giving to others make us selfish? In Psychology Today, Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz, PhD, and Abigail Marsh, PhD, suggest that "it is our fundamentally caring nature that moves us to help others, and that feeling good may be merely a lucky and foreseeable outcome of giving, rather than its purpose — a critical distinction."

Urban Institute vice president Shena Ashley shares three trends in 2018 that could shape/reshape charitable giving in the years to come.

Continue reading »

Most Popular Posts of 2018

December 28, 2018

New-Years-Eve-2018.jpgHere they are: the most popular posts on PhilanTopic in 2018 as determined over the last twelve months by your clicks! 

It's a great group of reads, and includes posts from 2017 (Lauren Bradford, Gasby Brown, Rebekah Levin, and Susan Medina), 2016 (by Nathalie Laidler-Kylander, May Samali, Bernard Simonin, and Nada Zohdy), 2015 (Bethany Lampland), 2014 (Richard Brewster), 2013 (Allison Shirk), and oldies but goodies from 2012 (Michael Edwards) and 2010 (Thaler Pekar).

Check 'em out — we guarantee you'll find something that gives you pause or makes you think.

Interested in writing for PND or PhilanTopic? We'd love to hear from you. Send a few lines about your idea/article/post to mfn@foundationcenter.org.

5 Questions for...Rebecca Masisak, CEO, TechSoup

December 22, 2018

For more than thirty years, TechSoup has facilitated product donations and technical assistance to nonprofits and NGOs with the aim of helping them implement technology solutions that drive social impact.

With the goal of raising $11.5 million over the next three years to sustain and expand that work, the organization recently announced a direct public offering (DPO) through impact investing platform SVX.US. The DPO offers three tiers of debt security investments — risk capital notes, with a minimum investment of $50,000 and a 5 percent interest rate; patient capital notes, with a minimum investment of $2,500 and a 3.5 percent interest rate; and community capital notes, with a minimum investment of $50 and a 2 percent interest rate. TechSoup is the first nonprofit to be qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise funds through a Regulation A+ / Tier 2 offering.

PND asked TechSoup CEO Rebecca Masisak about the genesis of the DPO, as well as her views on the role of technology in building a more effective philanthropic sector and driving social change.

Headshot_rebecca_masisak_techsoupPhilanthropy News Digest: What was the thinking behind the decision to launch a direct public offering on an impact investing platform? Is there a broader goal beyond the immediate one of funding TechSoup's work and outreach?

Rebecca Masisak: Throughout our history, we've achieved scale and reach with the direct support of NGOs that wanted to use technology to achieve their missions. They have been investing in us — in the form of their administrative fees. The DPO takes that principle to the next level. It's important that those individual organizations from our community have a voice in what we do and have a way to vote — not just with a "like" on Facebook or a retweet — but with an expression of faith that comes with an investment in our DPO.

The direct public offering reflects our belief that TechSoup's stakeholders come from a range of economic backgrounds but share a common belief in the importance of a strong infrastructural backbone for civil society. The DPO enables us to offer a debt investment with interest as an impact investment, not just to institutional funders but also to U.S.-based individuals and smaller organizations in our community, with meaningful but relatively low investment minimums of $50. We want all these stakeholders to play a role in our future, not just those who have a larger budget to invest.

From the beginning, we knew we wanted to work with a platform provider in order to securely manage the investment transactions. We also needed a provider that could specifically support a Regulation A+, Tier 2 Offering in all U.S. states, so we looked at a few different options before making our choice. SVX has a strong track record as an impact investing marketplace in Canada and met all our technical platform requirements. Equally important, however, was that the SVX team shared our values and belief in democratizing access to impact investments. They have become a true partner to us, and I'm confident they will do an excellent job supporting the community engagement we seek.

PND: What has been the response to date from investors and other nonprofits?

RM: We get a lot of questions: Can nonprofits do this? What do you mean I get my money back? Why are you making the minimum investment so low?

This is a new way of doing investment in nonprofits — we are the first nonprofit qualified by the SEC to have this type of offering in all fifty U.S. states — and there are a lot of technical questions. We also know people are curious about how it turns out, not only because they want to see us succeed but also because they're thinking about doing it themselves. We're glad to be in a position to learn for the sector and to share our experience as the campaign progresses.

Since the launch in mid-November, the response has been incredibly positive. This includes those community-level "Main Street" investors who have had very limited opportunities to invest in this kind of security offering before. We see that the ability to invest this way feels empowering. Based on preliminary conversations to date, we also anticipate receiving significant support from larger entities at the Risk Capital note tier and look forward to making some announcements in the near future.

We're excited that other nonprofits have expressed interest in learning more about this approach, and we're committed to sharing what we are learning. We want others in the sector to benefit from our experience and have already started to publish updates on our blog and recently hosted a webinar along with the SVX team and our legal counsel from Cutting Edge Capital.

Continue reading »

What's New at Foundation Center Update (November and December)

December 18, 2018

FC_logoDoes anyone feel like the end of the year is the busiest time of all? Not only is everyone swamped, but with so much happening in the world and in philanthropy, there's hardly any time to prioritize reflection, learning, and empathy. Here at Foundation Center, we're scrambling to finish this year's projects while also planning some exciting things for 2019.

This is a long update, but I guarantee there's something useful in it for everyone!

Projects Launched

  • In partnership with the Early Childhood Funders’ Collaborative and Heising-Simons Foundation, we launched Funding for Early Childhood Care and Education, an interactive mapping tool that provides a valuable starting place for funders and practitioners interested in supporting the learning and development of young children across the country.
  • In partnership with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, we launched the fifth edition of Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy, as well as a revamped website with an updated dashboard. The new report includes a five-year (2012-2016) trends analysis, adding to the information available on disaster giving and enabling philanthropists, government agencies, and NGOs to better coordinate their efforts and make better decisions about support for effective disaster response and assistance. You can view all these resources at: disasterphilanthropy.foundationcenter.org.
  • We launched the Barr Foundation Knowledge Center, which features key learnings and work from the Barr Foundation and their partners aimed at maximizing impact in their issue areas and the field more generally. Powered by our IssueLab service, the collection includes publications and resources that are free to browse and download.
  • In partnership with Hispanics in Philanthropy and Seattle International Foundation, we released a new report, U.S. Foundation Funding for Latin America, 2014–2015. This two-year analysis updates seven years of collaborative research with a multiyear analysis designed to help civil society leaders identify long-term trends in the region and better target their resources. With additional analysis on Central America, the report was highlighted at the 2018 Central America Donors Forum in El Salvador.
  • We added a new feature on YouthGiving.org, Causes: Youth In Action! The new pages provide an in-depth look at how youth funders are approaching critical issues in the world today. And while there are lots of causes around which youth are energized, the new feature focuses on three to start — Environment, Immigration, and Mental Health — with each page showcasing current funding data, ways youth can get involved, and stories from youth highlighting their work to effect change.
  • We released new research in partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation that maps the composition of and support for the complex ecosystem of nonprofit and philanthropic infrastructure organizations around the world.
  • We launched new dashboards on the Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy site, a nonpartisan data visualization platform for anyone interested in understanding philanthropy's role in funding U.S. democracy. With the new dashboards, the site now provides information on more than 57,000 grants awarded by over 6,000 funders totaling $5.1 billion across four major categories: campaigns and elections, civic participation, government strengthening, and media.

Content Published

Newsworthy Connections

  • In the wake of the midterm elections, we have seen a reinvigorated debate around the role of philanthropy in a democratic society. But what are funders actually doing to support democracy in the United States? At a time of increased scrutiny of foundations, our updated dashboards on Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy provide a measure of transparency and a partial answer to that question and complement the broader discussion about philanthropy's role in a democratic society. Learn more at democracy.foundationcenter.org.
  • Teleangé Thomas, director of Foundation Center Midwest, was tapped to moderate a televised interview with Anand Giridharadas, author of Winner Takes All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World at the City Club of Cleveland in October.

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Shifting from presenting data to sharing insights. A great example is this blog post on PhilanTopic written by our own Anna Koob on the intersection of democracy funding and participatory grantmaking — both recent focuses of our work.
  • Our GrantCraft guide on participatory grantmaking guide has been downloaded more than 2,000 times since it was launched in October! We've also received a number of inquiries from funders interested in adopting the practice and are continuing to advance the conversation through blogs, conference sessions, and webinars.
  • If you haven't already, check out the series in PhilanTopic on current trends in philanthropy by Vice President of Research Larry McGill and our Knowledge Services colleagues Supriya Kumar and Anna Koob. The series touches on big picture trends as well as a few of our recent research projects.
  • Foundation Center has officially joined the United Philanthropy Forum, a network of more than seventy-five regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs). We’re excited about the exciting joint opportunities that lie ahead!
  • Foundation Center's annual Network Days conference for the center's Funding Information Network partners met the expectations of 93 percent of attendees and was attended by representatives of sixty-four of our partners, including a number from outside the U.S.

Services Spotlight

  • In October, we added 178,992 new grants to Foundation Maps, of which 4,665 were awarded to 2,269 organizations outside the United States. In November, we added 218,139 grants, of which 12,716 were awarded to 5,912 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Foundation Directory Online now includes more than 13 million grants. We've also made improvements to its search functionality and added more robust usage reports.
  • New data sharing partners: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; Boyd and Evelyn Mullen Charitable Foundation; Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation; C&A Foundation; Delta Air Lines Foundation; Fichtenbaum Charitable Foundation; New York Women's Foundation, Inc.; People's United Community Foundation, Inc.; People's United Community Foundation of Eastern Massachusetts, Inc.; Pohlad Family Foundation; and David And Claudia Reich Family Foundation. Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.
  • Thanks to a generous grant from Borealis Philanthropy, we added 97 eBooks to Foundation Center's collection, bringing the total number of eBooks available to the public to 179. Since mid-April, when the collection was first made available online, the most-viewed titles have been The Complete Book of Grant Writing: Learn to Write Grants Like a Professional and Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals. Check out our free eBooks today!

Data Spotlight

  • Since 2001, youth have made 101 grants totaling more than $475,000 in support of issues related to immigrants and refugees. YouthGiving.org's new cause page focused on immigration aims to help youth (and the adults who support them) to be more strategic in their work by highlighting quick facts and resources from organizations that work on these issues every day.
  • In terms of disaster assistance strategies, 42 percent of dollars awarded in 2016 supported response and relief efforts; 17 percent supported reconstruction and recovery efforts, with more than half of that awarded in support of efforts related to the Flint water crisis; 8 percent supported resilience measures; and 5 percent was allocated to disaster preparedness efforts. Learn more about these strategies and trends at disasterphilanthropy.foundationcenter.org.
  • Since 2011, Foundation Center has documented 57,000+ democracy-related grants. Of those, 11.5 percent totaling some $583 million were directed in support of campaigns, elections, and voting, including support for campaign finance reform, election administration, voter education, and voting access efforts.
  • Did you know funding for nonprofit infrastructure organizations averaged $70.4 million annually between 2004 and 2015? Learn more about the ecosystem of organizations working to support nonprofits, philanthropy, and civil society at infrastructure.foundationcenter.org.
  • Thirty-eight percent of the grant dollars awarded by U.S. foundations to Latin America went directly to recipient organizations in the region, while the rest was awarded to organizations located outside the region. Learn more about funding for Latin America here.
  • Youth have awarded more than $795,000 in support of the environment, including causes such as climate change, outdoor education, and animal welfare. Explore youthgiving.org/learn/causes/environment to learn more about why young people are taking action around the environment.
  • Since January 2018, Foundation Center has hosted more than 15,000 attendees at our in-person events at our five regional offices and registered nearly 30,000 folks for our online classes and self-paced e-learning courses. Check out our ongoing events calendar at GrantSpace. And browse our self-paced e-learning courses and other on-demand courses here.
  • Through our Ask Us chat service, Foundation Center staff have assisted with or answered more than 130,000 questions from the public on topics related to finding grants, fundraising, and nonprofit management.
  • Lastly, we completed custom data searches for the University of San Diego, Geneva Global, the Center for Evaluation Innovation, and the Educational Foundation of America.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email! I'll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

Weekend Link Roundup (December 15-16, 2018)

December 16, 2018

Christmas-in-new-yorkA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Children and Youth

Once a thriving center of industry, Hudson, New York, was hit hard by de-industrialization over the closing decades of the twentieth century. But a recent wave of gentrification has made it a darling of tourists and second-home owners — a renaissance that hasn't benefited all its residents, write Sara Kendall and Joan E. Hunt on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog. Kendall, a co-founder and assistant director of Kite’s Nest, a center for liberatory education in Hudson, and Hunt, co-director of the Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, share some of what they have learned through the Raising Places, an initiative funded by RWJF that has spent the last year exploring ideas about how to create healthier communities that are also vibrant places for kids to grow up.

The Philanthropic Initiative's Robin Baird shares some of the themes related to the critical work of supporting young people that kept popping up at the 2018 Grantmakers for Education Conference in San Diego.

Civic Engagement

Martha Kennedy Morales, a third-grader at Friends Community School, a small private Quaker school in College Park, Maryland, ran for class president and lost, by a single vote, to a popular bot in the fourth grade. Then she got the surprise of her life. The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss shares what happened next on her Answer Sheet blog.

Fundraising/Marketing

On the GuideStar blog, George Crankovic, an experienced copywriter and strategist, shares three fundraising lessons he learned the hard way. 

Getting Attention! blogger Nancy Schwartz shares some advice for development and fundraising folks who want to use stories and photos of clients in their organizations' fundraising materials but also want to be respectful of their privacy.

Continue reading »

The Migrant Crisis Isn’t Just About Migrants

December 14, 2018

181019-migrants-45As a descendant of Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, I'm painfully aware of how fortunate I am to live in the United States. Thousands of my grandfather's peers were accused of being Nazi spies and denied asylum by the U.S. State Department and Franklin D. Roosevelt on the grounds they were a threat to national security. In one infamous incident, the German ocean liner St. Louis and its 937 passengers, almost all Jewish, were turned away from the port of Miami in June 1939 and forced to return to Europe. More than a quarter of those passengers died in the Holocaust.

As absurd as it feels to write this, Americans seem to agree that separating infants from their parents and holding them in cages is a less-than-ideal border policy. Yet, after the initial outrage, followed by weeks of protest and political handwringing, we are no closer to agreeing on a humane policy response to those seeking a brighter future for themselves and their children in the United States.

What do we owe asylum seekers from Central America? For the current administration, the answer is "nothing." As far as it is concerned, "caravans" of "illegal aliens" are blatantly disregarding the rule of law and bringing poverty, violence, drugs, and terrorism across the border — or would, if they were allowed to enter. Tear-gassing migrants at the border and separating them from their children might look cruel, but for this administration it is a small price to pay when, it would have you believe, the safety and security of the American people is at stake.

Of course, a full, honest accounting of the situation would require acknowledging our collective responsibility for the violent, wretched conditions under which so many migrant families have suffered. After all, the United States repeatedly has fomented political chaos and instability in Central America, resulting in decades of authoritarian rule and civil strife in most countries in the region, while Americans’ insatiable appetite for cocaine and heroin continues to fund the brutally-violent cartels behind the Latin America drug trade.

To Donald Trump, Mexico and Central America are violent and poor not for reasons of politics or economics; they are violent and poor because Mexicans and Central Americans are less than human. And if one is unashamed to call migrants "animals" and "criminals" looking to "infest" our country, why would one spend even a minute wondering what is causing them to flee their homes?

This mind-set attributes suffering to the personal moral failings of an individual or group of people rather than seeing it as a natural outgrowth of deliberate policy choices. It also knowingly evades responsibility. Persistent poverty and violence in African-American communities are attributed to the cultural or psychological flaws of black people, rather than recognized as the devastating consequence of hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, police brutality, and racist housing legislation. Falling incomes are seen as the product of laziness rather than the result of anti-tax policies, the offshoring of millions of manufacturing jobs, and decades of legislation that have concentrated much of the country’s wealth in the hands of a tiny subset of the population.

The manufactured crisis on our southern border is merely the latest symptom of a collective inability to recognize the basic humanity of others and come to terms with the consequences of past actions. If we acknowledge that political decisions made by American elites are partly responsible for the violence, extortion, sexual abuse, and mental and physical trauma that migrants are subject to on their journey to the United States, our collective obligation to help them becomes a moral imperative. Migrants are the victims in this crisis, not its creators.

This shameful moment in American history requires a philanthropic sector that is actively willing to support the two pillars of social change: charity and justice.

There are urgent humanitarian needs being unmet. Food, shelter, basic supplies, and asylum application assistance are all in short supply at the border, while for direct-service providers like those that make up the California United Fund, dealing with a large volume of migrants in a rapidly deteriorating situation has strained their capacity to the breaking point. The situation also demands a robust legal response. Organizations such as the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Southern Poverty Law Center need support as they bring suit against the administration on behalf of nonprofits working to provide assistance to refugees and asylum seekers. My organization, PICO California — the largest faith-based community organizing network in the state — will be holding a series of vigils, protests, and meetings at congressional offices and federal buildings in the months ahead to demand that Congress assign more judges to the border to speed up migrant asylum applications, send humanitarian aid to all migrants, provide job creation and violence prevention assistance to Central American countries, and vote "no" on expanded budgets for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

And yet, the focus on direct services, advocacy campaigns, legal challenges, and voter outreach is only a start. The polarization of our communities is so significant that nothing less than societal transformation is likely to bring about the changes we need. If we don't start to create pathways to reconciliation, progressive power will merely reproduce a different kind of hegemony.

At their core, the fights over immigration, housing policy, criminal justice reform, gun control, and tax policy are fights over who is seen and who matters. As a movement for racial and economic justice, we believe that everyone belongs, and we are committed to resisting the xenophobia and scapegoating that is corrupting our democracy. By investing in movement-building strategies that bridge differences, funders can help create a more inclusive society that is responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable. Only then will justice become a public form of love.

Headshot_jeremy_ziskind

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Jeremy Ziskind is grants manager for PICO California, the largest faith-based community organizing network in the state.

Don’t Wait Until 2020 to Invest in Youth Leaders

December 13, 2018

Youth_engagementFor anyone interested in increasing youth civic engagement, the midterm elections are a cause for celebration. In the election,
31 percent of youth (ages 18-29) voted — according to at least one source, the highest level of participation among youth in the past quarter-century.

Traditionally, support for youth civic engagement declines at the end of an election cycle and resumes as the next cycle starts to heat up — along with thought pieces about why young people don’t vote. To break this pattern, I offer a suggestion: increase investment in youth organizing groups now; don't wait until 2020.

The country is in the middle of a massive demographic shift, with young people of color the fastest-growing segment of the population. The key to developing a robust and inclusive democracy that reflects this shift is to support the active civic participation and leadership of this group. And the best way to do that is not to wait until the start of the next election cycle to pour millions of dollars into advertising to reach young voters.

Instead, we should support organizations led by young people of color that are engaged in year-round organizing around both voter engagement campaigns and efforts to address issues in their local communities. Issue campaigns focused on quality schools, immigrants' rights, ending mass incarceration, and preserving reproductive rights are what motivate young people to become engaged in the world around them and, by extension, the electoral process.

Take the Power U Center for Social Change and Dream Defenders, youth organizing groups in Florida that have been organizing to end mass incarceration and the school-to-prison-pipeline. In the lead up to the midterms, both groups worked tirelessly in support of a ballot measure to restore voting eligibility to formerly convicted persons, and as a result 1.4 million people in Florida have had their voting rights restored. If those ex-offenders are organized effectively, most of them will vote — and in ways, hopefully, that strengthen their communities.

From where I sit, there are three reasons to double down on investments in youth organizing groups:

Youth organizers are good at engaging voters of all ages. Some youth organizing groups have focused on engaging young voters; others are organizing whole communities. Power California, a statewide alliance of more than twenty-five organizations, works to harness the power of young voters of color and their families. Between September and November, the organization and its partners worked in forty counties to get young Californians to head to the polls and make their voices heard on issues that affect them. Through phone calls, texting, and targeted social media, the organization talked to more than a hundred and fifteen thousand young voters and registered and pre-registered more than twenty-five thousand young people of color. Other organizations such as Poder in Action in Phoenix, Arizona, engaged young people in their communities because these young people are knowledgeable and passionate about the issues in play and serve as highly effective messengers. Our takeaway: investing in youth leaders generates results, now and for decades to come.

Engaging the pre-electorate now increases civic participation in the future. Many of the young people organizing and canvassing with grantees of the Funders' Collaborative for Youth Organizing were ineligible to vote because they hadn't turned 18. But while they weren't old enough to cast a ballot, many of them were active in knocking on doors and making calls to encourage others to vote. Today's 16- and 17-year-olds will be voting in 2020, and we should be supporting organizations working to engage them. These organizations are a vital resource for developing the next generation of civic leaders.

Youth organizers play a vital role in connecting issues and voting. Over the last several years, we've seen the emergence of a number of organizations that are organizing young people of color around issues in their communities and helping them engage electorally as part of a broader goal of creating a just and equitable society. These groups are developing the next generation of young leaders, organizing campaigns aimed at improving quality of life in their communities, and encouraging people, young and old, to get out and vote. Recent research shows that this kind of organizing is one of the best ways to support the academic growth, social and emotional development, and civic engagement of young people, and these groups are our best hope for actively engaging young people today, as well as developing a pipeline of leaders equipped to solve future challenges.

Unfortunately, funding for this work has been sporadic, often showing up — in insufficient amounts — just before elections and then disappearing as soon as the last vote has been counted. To build a just and inclusive society, we must make a significant, long-term investment in the leadership of young people of color willing to organize around issues and engage voters, both young and old.

The 2018 election cycle has come to an end. Our investment in youth organizing shouldn't. It is time to get serious about supporting the next generation of leaders.

By 2020, it'll be too late.

Headshot_Eric BraxtonEric Braxton is executive director of the Funders' Collaborative on Youth Organizing, a collective of social justice funders and youth organizing practitioners that works to advance youth organizing as a strategy for youth development and social change.

Labor Trafficking — an Immigration Issue

December 12, 2018

Hotel_cleaningConversations about immigration typically center around undocumented immigration, family sponsorship, and refugees. Very little attention is paid to the link between immigration and human trafficking — and that's unfortunate, because it is an urgent problem across the United States. 

While sex trafficking is the most familiar form of human trafficking, labor trafficking is another form of exploitation enabled by glaring defects in our immigration system. A 2004 report from the U.S. State Department estimated that upwards of 17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year, while a more recent report from Polaris, an anti-human-trafficking organization, identified six temporary visas most commonly associated with labor trafficking. These visas tie individuals to their employers or agency sponsors, making it nearly impossible for workers to break free from employers, even when working in conditions that are exploitative or abusive. 

At Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA), we work with survivors of labor trafficking who are brought to the U.S. and forced to become modern-day slaves by fraudulent employers. As a member of the California United Fund, a coalition of eight immigrants rights organizations dedicated to improving the lives of immigrants in the state and beyond, we are working to help victims of labor trafficking live dignified, independent lives in the U.S. 

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (December 8-9, 2018)

December 09, 2018

F2abfbb4-60b6-4641-ae9f-37fc3299453b-Dole_BushA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Children and Youth

Here on PhilanTopic, the Heising-Simons Foundation's Barbara Chow, and Shannon Rudisill, executive director of the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, discuss  the results of a joint effort to map the last ten years of philanthropic giving in the field of Early Childhood Care and Education

Climate Change

On the Surdna Foundation site, Helen Chin, director of the foundation's Sustainable Environments program, explains how a recent rethinking of the program was an "opportunity to build community resilience...in partnership with grantees working at the frontlines in communities of color — communities hardest hit by climate change, disinvestment, and racist planning practices."

A caravan of Central American migrants "seeking relief from a protracted drought that has consumed food crops and contributed to widespread poverty," hundreds of millions of people in India at increased risk of not having enough water, prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa that has "pushed millions of the world's poorest to the edge of survival" — all, writes Landesa's Karina Kloos, "are stark reminders that the most severe consequences of climate change are being inflicted upon people living in the Global South...."

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Iowa this week to take the temperature of Democratic primary voters and while there vowed to make climate change "the issue" of the 2020 presidential race. Trip Gabriel reports for the New York Times.

Criminal Justice

A new report funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation found that the arrest rate for California has dropped 58 percent since 1989, reaching a historic low of 3,428 per 100,000 residents in 2016. The report also found that individuals who are arrested tend to be nonwhite, younger, and male; that racial disparities in arrests have narrowed; that overall declines are mainly due to plummeting arrest rates for juveniles and young adults; and that women account for nearly a quarter of all arrests.

Continue reading »

NoVo Foundation: Empowering Marginalized Women to Drive Change

December 08, 2018

Too often funders doubt the ability of grassroots leaders to drive change, but NoVo Foundation's grantee partners are proving them wrong.

NCRP-2013logo-color-no-taglineNoVo believes that centering the leadership of people who live every day with injustice is the single most powerful way to create transformative change.

The foundation's consistent adherence to its values was a major factor in it being named an NCRP Impact Award winner in 2013. In making the announcement, NCRP highlighted the foundation’s investment in training, coaching, and networking grassroots women leaders through its Move to End Violence initiative, which continues to support leaders in the U.S. working to end violence against girls and women.

Today, NoVo is putting these values to work in even more ways.

Against the backdrop of the #MeToo revolution, NoVo has spent the last year convening hundreds of donors and funders to hear directly from activists working to end violence against girls and women. In New York, London and Los Angeles, these activists challenged philanthropy to meet this once-in-a-lifetime moment of opportunity for transformative change, made possible by millions of girls and women speaking truth to power, sharing their stories, and demanding safety and dignity. Now that effort is poised to bring new resources to the table. In the coming weeks, NoVo will stand with a dynamic group of funders to launch a new landmark fund to end gender-based violence and build women's power.

Continue reading »

Rooted Communities: Placemaking, Placekeeping

December 06, 2018

IRetail for rentn Seattle's Central District, or "CD," gentrification and rapid development are displacing the largest African-American community in the state, reducing opportunities for wealth creation and accumulation among thousands of lower- and middle-class people and threatening the black community's political representation in city government, as well as its social, cultural, and economic capital.

In just a single generation, the African-American share of the neighborhood's population has fallen from 70 percent to under 20 percent, creating a cultural "diaspora" from what had been a diverse, welcoming neighborhood for more than a hundred and thirty years. Shaped early on by racist housing policies that pushed families of color into the neighborhood and limited their access to economic opportunity, African-American members of the community responded by building powerful neighborhood businesses and institutions. Now, those businesses and institutions are being forced out by surging rents and taxes, eroding the sense of community in the district.

Nationally, African Americans have a homeownership rate of 42 percent, a rate virtually unchanged since 1968 and a third less than the 70 percent enjoyed by whites. In Seattle, the home ownership rate for African Americans is just 24 percent. Low rates of home ownership, in both Seattle and nationally, increase African Americans' vulnerability to gentrification, which inevitably leads to rent increases, reduces the stock of affordable housing, and decreases economic opportunity for long-time members of the community.

Continue reading »

Liberty Hill Foundation Pushes for Higher Social Justice Standards

December 05, 2018

Liberty Hill Foundation's approach over the last forty years has been to ask grassroots community organizing leaders, "How can we help?"

NCRP-2013logo-color-no-taglineStaff would do what communities asked of them, providing general operating support and multiyear funding, when possible, and stepping back so that community organizers could take the lead.

This is why Liberty Hill won an NCRP Impact Award in 2013; its grantee partners have won important policy and social victories, including passage of the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

But, recently, the foundation has acknowledged the extent of its power and influence and made a conscious decision to leverage it more aggressively.

In the wake of the 2016 election, Liberty Hill staff observed that many of their allies were overwhelmed and feeling pressure to respond to the onslaught of policy and social threats to their communities. They knew that defending the gains made by progressive social movements was important, but they also knew that being in Los Angeles made it easier to secure gains that weren't possible in other parts of the country.

Liberty Hill staff engaged board members, donors, grantees, and other allies to discuss how, beyond, funding, it could strategically support the work of progressive nonprofits in Los Angeles.

Continue reading »

Contributors

Quote of the Week

  • "Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary...."

    — Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Subscribe to Philantopic

Contributors

Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Archives

Other Blogs

Tags